Banbridge have their own potential Euro Hockey League qualification in their own hands as they travel to Glasgow this weekend for the EuroHockey Club Champions Trophy.
While there are many permutations, if Bann can win the competition, it would give Ireland a great chance of moving up from ninth to eighth in the European national rankings list, an outcome that brings with it a second EHL berth.With the Co Down side guaranteed to be Ireland’s second representative in 2017 – with Lisnagarvey confirmed as first – it means Bann’s fate is effectively in their own hands.
And key defender Matthew Bell says that this situation gives “a bit of incentive”.
“If we do well we can get ourselves back up in to the EHL for next year which would be a fantastic achievement and one we have been aiming for since our last trip there in 2011.”
Bann are grouped with Swiss champions Rotweiss Wettingen on Friday afternoon before meeting Belarus’s KC Minsk on Saturday and the hosts Kelburne on Sunday.
“We expect the tournament to be a good standard,” Bell adds. “Rotweiss Wettingen were at the last tournament in the Czech Republic and were a decent side. Obviously, Kelburne will be a major threat to us also. Unfortunately, we don’t know much about HC Minsk so will just have to see what happens.
“The tournament will be a good experience for us as we’re quite a young team which will help us in the future. It’s also giving us a chance to look at other players as we have a few who are unavailable.”
They go into the competition without Josh Moffett, Sam Farson, Kyle Marshall and Jake Rowe due to exams while Owen Magee and Jonny McKee miss Friday’s game with Wettingen for the same reason.
Coach Mark Tumilty says that he has seen no video of the opposition but has spoken to some people who have seen Kelburne. They recently won the Scottish double including their 11th national league crown in 12 seasons.
“I think it is a very tough group. Kelburne at home will be very difficult and you never know with Belarus team. The Swiss will be based on indoor style.
“We have been inconsistent in the IHL through out the season. However, I feel that over the Irish finals weekend, we began to produce a better standard of hockey. We will need to produce that level again if we are to have a chance of being successful.”
The other group features just three teams with Italy’s HC Bra, the Czech Republic’s Slavia Prague and Wales’ Cardiff & Met involved. Azerbaijan’s Atasport were initally included but will no longer take part.
Top of each group qualifies for the final; second goes into the third place playoff while third faces off for fifth.
EuroHockey Club Champions Trophy, Pool A fixtures
Friday, May 13: Banbridge vs Rotweiss Wettingen, 3.30pm; HC Minsk vs Kelburne, 5.45pm
Saturday, May 14: Banbridge vs HC Minsk, 2.30pm; Kelburne vs Rotweiss Wettingen, 4.45pm
Sunday, May 15: HC Minsk vs Rotweiss Wettingen, 2.30pm; Banbridge vs Kelburne, 4.45pm
Monday, May 16: playoff games