Banbridge will host the maiden EY Hockey League Champions Trophy, the new name for the end of season playoffs, on April 30 and May 1 at their Havelock Park home.
It will be the second time the Co Down venue has hosted the national finals having welcomed the event to great effect in 2014. This year, the top three from the regular season of the men’s and women’s EYHL will qualify for the finals with the winner of the Irish Senior Cup making up the final four.
Should the winner of the cup also be in the top three then fourth in the league will take up the fourth spot. The winner of the Champions Trophy will be Ireland’s number one representative in Europe with the winner of the regular season taking the second spot.
Hockey Ireland also confirmed the mammoth path to qualify for the national league. Lisnagarvey and Monkstown will host one men’s and one women’s group in the EYHL Provinicial Playoffs Round 1, each featuring four teams, across a three-day round-robin series from April 15 to 17.
One the men’s side, the top three from Leinster and Ulster and the top two in Munster go into this phase of the competition. For the women, the top two from Leinster, Ulster and Munster are joined by the winner of the Connacht league with the final spot going to the winner of a playoff between Leinster and Ulster’s third place finisher.
The top two from each group then goes through to the EYHL Provincial Playoffs knock-out stage which will be played at Three Rock Rovers’ Grange Road on April 23 and 24. This phase features a semi-final on the Saturday and a final on the Sunday with promotion going to the winner.
The runner-up in the final will go on to meet the ninth place finisher of the EYHL in one final playoff for the last remaining spot in next year’s national league. This will take place on Champions Trophy weekend in Banbridge.
Speaking about the venues, Inez Cooper, Chair of the EYHL working group said: “We hope by concentrating the playoff pools in venues with two pitches, we will increase the spectators attending and give the teams involved the excitement and buzz their progress so far, deserves.
“We can already see the great competition that is occurring in all the provincial leagues and this should carry through to the final stages.
“We were delighted to have so many clubs submitted expressions of interest to host – a difficult job to get the venue balance right for the teams competing, but a great indication of the interest in the EYHL.”