The men’s Irish Hockey League took a step closer to being realised late on Sunday evening with the news that Ulster clubs Lisnagarvey, Banbridge, Annadale and Cookstown have accepted invitations to the expanded version of the competition.A recent Ulster Hockey special general meeting had voted for the province not to support the new season-long league that will see the top clubs move out of the provincial leagues. Despite this, all four clubs have accepted the IHA’s invitation in “good faith”.
Bann and Garvey have publicly stated their intentaions to definitely take part while Annadale confirmed they will follow suit with club chairman Alastair Chisholm making the following statement.
“Annadale will be entering the National Hockey League for 2015/16. Since the “Yes” vote at the IHA EGM in November to bring in a National League, we had held out hope for a resolution between Ulster Hockey and Hockey Ireland.
“With none forthcoming by Friday, April 3, we accepted the invitation to enter the National Hockey League for next season. Throughout the process we have asked questions of Irish Hockey which we now feel have been answered.
“We are a young, progressive club with many Junior Age Internationals. We feel it is our duty to allow them to compete at the highest level possible.”
Cookstown are likely to have a club SGM in the week to decided whether they follow through or withdraw and stay in the Ulster Premier League. Instonians will contest the wildcard playoffs against Railway Union and UCC next weekend.
Monkstown, Glenanne, Pembroke, Three Rock Rovers and Cork C of I are the other clubs to have accepted invitations to the new league.
The women’s invitations will be released next week on the completion of all the provincial leagues.