The EY Hockey Leagues – the sport’s flagship club competition in Ireland – will make it’s much anticipated return this Saturday with many Olympians and World Cup stars on display across the men’s and women’s competitions.
Indeed, anticipation is especially high to see where each team stands after two truncated seasons due to Covid-19 and Hockey Ireland is thrilled to have the continued support of EY who have promoted the league since 2015.
Ahead of the big restart, Frank O’Keeffe, Managing Partner for EY Ireland, commented: “EY is delighted to be entering its sixth year as lead sponsor of the EY Hockey League, against the backdrop of what has been an incredibly challenging 18 months for sport.
“Now, as we slowly and safely emerge from the pandemic, we can all look forward to an exciting sporting season ahead and in particular a terrific 2021/2022 hockey season.
“The EY Hockey league never disappoints. The level of skill and sportsmanship on display by teams competing in the league is always outstanding. I cannot wait to see what surprises this year’s league will bring. On behalf of EY, I would like to wish every success to all of the teams competing in the league this season. ”
The action begins on Saturday with four women’s EY Hockey League Division One games and five matches in the men’s competition. The second tier EY Hockey League Division Two fixtures, meanwhile, will hit the turf in late November.
In addition to the long-awaited return to competitive action, the EYHL also provides the first chance for fans to see members of the Irish women’s side up close since the Tokyo Olympic Games.
For example, a number of them could be in action at the season curtain-raiser at Rosbrien as Limerick’s Catholic Institute face UCD with Róisín Upton, Naomi Carroll (both Institute), Sarah McAuley, Hannah McLoughlin and Michelle Carey (all UCD) in the mix.
It is among the highlights of day one of the season which also features Muckross against Cork Harlequins, Belfast Harlequins hosting Old Alex and the reigning champions – from the 2018/19 season – Pegasus welcome an ever-improving Pembroke outfit.
Pegs will be under the tutelage of new coach Craig McGrugan with the inspirational Shirley McCay bringing a powerful presence to the table. Pembroke had added Ellen Curran to their squad having led UCD to the 2020 Irish Senior Cup crown. Loreto’s date with Railway Union has been postponed.
On the men’s side, a feature of the last couple of years has been the return of some top stars from abroad to add to the quality of the league.
Monkstown were the beneficiaries last summer when Lee Cole and Jeremy Duncan came back to Dublin after a few years in Belgium. Their first opponent, Banbridge, have one of their favourite sons – Johnny McKee – back in the fold following time with Crefelder HTC in Germany.
Lisnagarvey, meanwhile, similarly welcome back Matthew Nelson and Peter McKibbin after spells from the continent, boosting their star-studded squad. Their first day out is a trip to Glenanne on day one who will be inspired once again by player-coach Shane O’Donoghue.
Similarly, Annadale have current international brothers Michael and Callum Robson back from Germany and Tim Cross joins from Tilburg in the Netherlands. Their first game is against Corinthian. Ambitious YMCA and Pembroke meet at Wesley while UCD and Three Rock Rovers both look like wildcard teams having seen very large overhauls of their panels this summer.
** Longer previews to be posted later today. All the games will be covered and promoted via the Hockey Ireland website and social media channels through the weekend. Use the hashtag #EYHL to keep track of all the updates.
Saturday 11th September 2021
EYHL Division 1: Annadale v Corinthian, Lagan College, 2.30pm; Glenanne v Lisnagarvey, St. Andrews College, 3pm; Monkstown v Banbridge, Rathdown, 2.30pm; UCD v Three Rock Rovers, Belfield, 1pm; YMCA v Pembroke Wanderers, Wesley College, 3.50pm
EYHL Division 1: Belfast Harlequins v Old Alexandra, Deramore Park, 2.30pm; Catholic Institute v UCD, Rosbrien, 1pm; Muckross v Cork Harlequins, Grange Road, 1pm; Pegasus v Pembroke Wanderers, Queens University, 4.15pm