Banbridge, Lisnagarvey and Three Rock Rovers, all semi-finalists last time around, look set for a battle royale in Poll B of the men’s Irish Hockey League group stages following confirmation of the draw earlier today.Bann and Garvey were the standard-bearers in Ulster last term, ending top of the Premier League level on points with the latter winning out on goal difference. Three Rock, meanwhile, as Irish Senior Cup winners make up the fancied trio preseason in a pool that also features Cork C of I, UCD and Railway Union.
As the one newcomer to the men’s competition, UCC have been handed a tough debut season in the marquee event in Pool A with reigning champions Monkstown lying in wait for the Mardyke side. They have also been paired against Ulster trio Cookstown, Instonians and Annadale while Pembroke complete the pool.
The competition this season will see rounds played throughout the season with three rounds of matches to be played before Christmas – October 11, November 1 and November 29 the current dates. The exception to that is Monkstown’s opening round tie against Pembroke which clashes with the former’s trip to Barcelona for the Euro Hockey League.
On the women’s side, 2013/14 finalists UCD will be the clear favourites to advance from Pool B being drawn against Loreto, Ards, Cork Harlequins, Greenfields and Ulster Elks.
In Pool B, Railway Union line out against Pegasus, Hermes, Ballymoney, Lurgan and UCC. Like the men’s competition, three games will be played before Christmas with the aim to give space to the national teams to prepare for World League round two in the New Year.
Men’s Irish Hockey League Pool A: Monkstown, Cookstown, Pembroke, Annadale, Instonians, UCC
Pool B: Banbridge, Lisnagarvey, Three Rock Rovers, Cork C of I, UCD, Railway Union
Women’s Irish Hockey League Pool A: Railway Union, Pegasus, Hermes, Ballymoney, Lurgan, UCC
Pool B: UCD, Loreto, Ards, Cork Harlequins, Greenfields, Ulster Elks