YMCA and Corinthian look set to be the two leading lights to push for promotion out of Leinster Division One and onward to the men’s EY Hockey League playoffs this season.
For the Reds, they have made the marquee signing with Jonny Bruton moving from Monkstown to Whitechurch Park to take up a dual role as player and assistant coach.Head coach Trevor Dagg is delighted with the new addition, saying ahead of the new campaign: “Firstly, special thanks to Gordon Elliott for his support over the last two years. His contribution was immense and he’s helped reshape the environment at the Corinthians.
“Jonny now comes on board to progress that work and his role is to develop the young players with myself. We’re going to support him with his coaching badges and reap the benefit of his experience in the area of player development and physical conditioning.”
It means, after a couple of years of transition in terms of player turnover, Corinthian have a settled panel for the new campaign and will look to go further than last term when they were knocked out of the promotion race at the playoff group stages having won the Leinster league.
To that end, there is a tweak to the provincial playoff system compared to last term. Should the Reds repeat their league win, they will advance automatically to the playoff finals with the Munster and Ulster champions.
Places two and three from Leinster go to a group stage of the playoff process with two teams from Ulster and one from Munster.
YM look to have the other stand-out squad in the competition in spite of the departure of Ben Campbell to UCD. They have retained the likes of Ed Lawler, Thom Ritchie and Andrew Buckley for another season and added South African Nick Berichon.
Of the other sides, Avoca have seen their key man Richard Couse move to Glenanne while Clontarf will have to adapt to life without Kevin Mullins and Zane Hutter.
It means the likes of Rathgar, Kilkenny, Fingal and Dublin University will be aiming to close the gap to the playoff places while Weston will hope to steady their ship after a couple of tough seasons.
Corinthian’s season gets off to a belated start with their opening game against Dublin University pushed back to October 4 as the students have yet to return to term time.
Fingal play Kilkenny, Avoca meet Clontarf and Rathgar host Weston with all looking to make an early impact.
Men’s Leinster Division One (Saturday): Fingal v Kilkenny, 2pm, NSC Abbotstown; Avoca v Clontarf, 12.30pm, Newpark; Rathgar v Weston, 4pm, High School