The two promoted sides Inst and UCD pushed last season’s playoff teams Pembroke and Lisnagarvey all the way but ended up without points; Monkstown won handily as did Railway while Banbridge won a thriller against Three Rock
Hot on the heels of a first Olympic summer for the Irish men’s team in over a century, the EY Hockey League provides a major showcase for new fans of the sport to see the Rio stars up close and personal.
romoted UCD have benefitted from a healthy influx of players following their promotion from the Leinster leagues to the national competition with Ben Campbell – scoring five times in five preason games – and Aaron Bailey among their key additions.
The big change this season for Banbridge is in the composition of their front line with Stevie Dowds so long the centre-piece of their attack.
Instonians return to the national stage after an absence of one season as they swept all before them in Ulster and subsequently the playoffs for promotion to the EY Hockey League.
While their forward options have been trimmed with the departure of both Jonny Bruton and Peter Caruth, Monkstown still look to be one of the major contenders for national honours.
A glut of new arrivals means Railway will work with a much larger panel than the one that was stretched to the limit at times last season.
The big addition is Olympian Mitch Darling who should help with their main issue which was their forward line last season.
Jonny Caren has been appointed coach, moving from Monkstown where he took the Leinster-based side to second in the EYHL and winning an Irish Senior Cup
Last season’s runaway champions Lisnagarvey look well set to be major challengers once again with Rio trio Jonny Bell, Paul Gleghorne and Timmy Cockram joined in the panel by fellow internationals Neal Glassey, James Lorimer, Sean Murray and Daniel Buser.
ith two of last season’s key players departing, Glenanne had a big job of replacing Shannon Boucher – the top scorer last year on the national stage with 27 goals – and goalkeeper Lukasz Domachowski.
Former C of I player Neil Welch is back at the coaching helm having coached UCC for the past five seasons; he previously coached the team from 2005 to 2008.