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Monkstown and Banbridge – the 2012/13 men’s finalists – will meet in the group stages of the Irish Hockey League following confirmation of the groups for the upcoming season’s competition.
It comes following the introduction of a new seeding system, similar to the one used in EHF and EuroHockey League competition, which takes in the results over the past three seasons.
Under those power rankings, Lisnagarvey are top dogs having reached the semi-finals in each of the years in the qualification period.
They have been paired against Leinster pair Pembroke and Three Rock along with Instonians and Cork Harlequins.
Pool B, though, looks set for battle royale with Monkstown and Bann facing the ever-progressing UCD – who become the ninth different Leinster side to qualify – along with Munster champions Cork C of I, Corinthian and Annadale.
On the women’s side, Connacht’s first ever entrants, Greenfields, have been given a baptism of fire in Pool A. They will meet reigning champions Railway Union, Leinster league winners UCD and an always dangerous Hermes. The Booterstown side will meet Munster cup winners Catholic Institute for a third successive year while Lurgan make up that six-team pool.
Pool B features 2013 finalists Loreto along with Ulster’s leading lights Pegasus – though Michelle Harvey has departed for Belgium to play in Leuven – Ards and Ballymoney. Munster league winners Cork Harlequins and Old Alex complete the group.
The current calendar has the IHL taking place at the back end of the 2013/14 season, running over nine weeks from March 15 to May 3. This could change, however, depending on when the FIH schedules the men’s and women’s Champions Challenge I dates. These are currently mooted to be played from April 28 to May 5 with the venues to be confirmed.
Men’s Pool A: Pembroke Wanderers, Three Rock Rovers, Instonians, Cork Harlequins, Cookstown, Lisnagarvey
Men’s Pool B: Monkstown, UCD, Corinthian, Banbridge, Annadale, Cork Church of Ireland.
Ladies Pool A: Railway Union, Hermes, UCD, Catholic Inst., Lurgan, Greenfields
Ladies Pool B: Loreto, Old Alex, Pegasus, Ballymoney, Ards, Cork Harlequins