Banbridge – men’s EY Hockey League preview

Last season: EYHL League winners, Irish Senior Cup winners, EY Champions Trophy semi-finals

Players in: Luke Witherow (Raphoe), Alex Tinney (Raphoe), James Hutchison (Belfast Harlequins), Zach McClelland (Instonians)
Players out: Matthew Bell (Crefelder HC, Germany), Kyle Marshall (Beeston, England)

Overview: For Mark Tumilty and his side, the big challenge in the early stages of this season is to try and replace their key defensive totems Matthew Bell and Kyle Marshall. In addition to being the mainstays as tightest defences in the men’s EYHL last season, Bell also provided 14 goals over the campaign with his vicious drag-flicks. Jake Rowe is on a golf scholarship in Iowa.

Banbridge celebrate their Irish Senior Cup success. Pic: Adrian Boehm

They also picked up a couple of serious injuries over the course of the international summer with Eugene Magee unlikely to play prior to the Euro Hockey League in Barcelona following his injury against New Zealand in World League Round 3. Jonny McKee should return earlier. As such, the umpires issue, may work slightly in their favour in terms of getting these two men available for an extra game.

As such, it means some big books to fill for Raphoe duo Luke Witherow and Alex Tinney as the Havelock Park look to back up their incredible 2016/17 campaign, reaching the EHL KO16, winning the EYHL regular season and the Irish Senior Cup.

Nonetheless, there is still plenty of talent around with Drew Carlisle, Owen Magee, Bruce McCandless, Fraser Mills, the Brown brothers, Hugh McShane and Jamie Wright to suggest they will be hugely competitive and pushing the upper echelons. Scott McCandless returns to the coaching staff after three years living in Hong Kong.

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