EYHL WOMEN’S DIVISION 1 R1 PREVIEW:
The 2023-24 EY Hockey League Women’s Division 1 begins this weekend and the first round of fixtures have turned up some interesting ties. Catholic Institute will host newly promoted Corinthians. Pegasus will take on last season’s EY Champions Trophy winners Loreto. Old Alexandra have Dublin Derby against Railway Union. Defending League Champions UCD take on 2021-22 Champions Pembroke Wanderers at Belfield and newly promoted Ulster Elks will host Monkstown.
EYHL MEN’S DIVISION 1 R2 PREVIEW:
Round 2 of the EY Hockey League Men’s Division 1 gets underway on Friday night with a derby in Belfast where Annadale take on Instonians at Lagan College. The action continues on Saturday afternoon with Corinthians who were visitors to Grange Road in week 1, securing their first League point, hosting a Monkstown side who beat UCD in their first fixture by 3-0. YMCA who were beaten 5-1 by Banbridge on the opening day of the season in Havelock Park will host Three Rock Rovers who were held at home in their first game. Banbridge, fresh from their 5-1 win over YMCA, host Glenanne this weekend while UCD take on 2022-23 EYHL Men’s Division runners-up Lisnagarvey at Belfield.
|EYHL Division 1||Friday 22nd September
Annadale v Instonians, Queens University, 19:30
|EYHL Division 1||Saturday 23rd September
UCD v Lisnagarvey, Belfield Water, 15:45
Corinthian v Monkstown, St Columbas College, 13:15
Banbridge v Glenanne, Havelock Park, 14:45
YMCA v Three Rock Rovers, YMCA, 14:00
UCD v Pembroke Wanderers, Belfield Water, 14:05
Catholic Institute v Corinthian, Rosbrien, 13:00
Ulster Elks v Monkstown, UUJ, 14:30
Pegasus v Loreto, Queens, 12:45
Old Alex v Railway Union, Alexandra College, 13:30
|Interprovincial||Sunday 17th September
Connacht v Leinster, Athlone, 11:00
Ulster v Munster, Trinty College, 12:30
Connacht v Leinster, Athlone, 13:00
Ulster v Munster, Trinty College, 14:30
LAST SEASON: 4th
Catholic Institute ended 2023-24 in 4th place in the League and qualified for the Champions Trophy. Not as memorable as the previous campaign where they finished 2nd in the title race and had won the Cup. They at least made their defense of that title go all the way to the final step before surrendering the Irish Senior Cup. They also experienced European Hockey for the first time in their history. Lessons learned in the latter campaign by the coaching staff and playing squad alike may see them finish in the top three again this season.
Emilie Ryan Doyle’s arrival from Old Alex, which coincides with her studying at UL should strengthen the depth of their defensive core and she should be on Shannonside for the length of her studies into the bargain. They begin their campaign with a home game against newly promoted Corinthian.
LAST SEASON: WON EYHL 2 (1ST IN LEINSTER DIVISION 1)
Corinthian gained promotion from Leinster Division 1 and EYHL 2 last season, making it a promotion double alongside their senior men’s team who did likewise. They begin their campaign with a trip to Rosbrien, the only sand-based surface in the Division which opponents Catholic Institute have turned into something of a fortress in recent seasons. Corinthian will be keen to get off to a good start and avoid being in the battle against the drop too early in the campaign. Ultimately, Corinthian will be looking to establish a foothold in EYHL Division 1 this season and kick on from there in subsequent seasons. Their pitch at Whitechurch, which is probably the highest from an altitude standpoint in the city of Dublin, hosted the EYHL 2 playoff weekend last season. They were dominant in the Leinster Division 1 last season and will find the step up a challenge they need to rise to early on.
LAST SEASON: 2nd
Despite the disappointment of losing the title on the final day of last season, they can have few complaints given the haul of silverware currently residing in the Beaufort Trophy cabinet. EY Champions Trophy and Jacqui Potter Cup winners in 2022-23 have been strengthened by the arrival of internationals Hannah McLaughlin and Caoimhe Perdue from UCD and UCC respectively. They have also only lost one player from last season’s squad. Therefore, they are in poll position to challenge for the EYHL title again this season and perhaps go one better. A tricky opening day fixture away to Pegasus at Queen’s University in Belfast though will need to be negotiated adeptly to get that campaign off to a successful start.
LAST SEASON: 8th
Monkstown came 8th in last season’s League campaign but winning the Irish Senior Cup made it a better debut season following their promotion at the end of the 2021-22 season that may have been anticipated. The loss of many experienced players who had helped them secure that promotion and their replacement by in house youth, made the achievement of staying up and adding a trophy even more remarkable. The younger players are a year older and wiser will be led on the field by veteran international player Chloe Watkins who returned to the national panel a few weeks ago. They begin their season with a battle against recently promoted Ulster Elks in Jordanstown who have added some experienced performers to the squad which secured promotion last season. It will be a tough test for the Irish Senior Cup holders.
LAST SEASON: 3rd
Despite having what looked like the strongest squad this time last year on paper, they were unable to sustain their title challenge beyond the end of March. They did reach the Champions Trophy play offs ultimately coming up short and not making the final. There have been some significant changes to the squad during the close season with two retirements and a transfer to Catholic Institute being the headline ones.
LAST SEASON: 6th
Pegasus had a core group of experienced players last season, guiding a larger group of younger players. With a similar dynamic in their squad this season, their younger players will be one year older wiser and most likely better. At least three of the five teams that finished above Pegasus last season could be described as in transition. And if that proves to be the case on the field then perhaps a top five finish for Pegasus may well be a realistic target.
LAST SEASON: 5th
League winners in 2021-22, they had a relatively disappointing season in 2022-23 even though they had a crucial role in deciding who would win their title by beating Loreto on the final day of the campaign. They had a strong squad and while they lost some experienced individuals in the 2022 close season, in Gillian Pinder and Aisling Naughton to name but two, they probably would feel that 5th place was not a fair reflection of the talent at their disposal. This season veteran defender Leah Maguire has moved back to the North, from where she came and will be an Ulster Elk in 2023-24. A serial winner whose experience will be missed it remains to be seen whether this will be a season of transition for Pembroke or whether they will return to being contenders like they had been not so long ago. A trip to defending champions UCD should prove a trickier opener than this time last year when they beat Belfast Harlequins 6-1.
LAST SEASON: 7th
The arrival of Michelle and Niamh Carey back from UCD should provide extra goal scoring power to a Railway Union side which disappointingly missed out on a Champions Trophy playoff spot last season by a very narrow margin. They hook up with other former students in Kate Lloyd, Katie Mullen, Orla and Sarah Patton and going even further back Holly Jenkinson. There should be a great blend of youth and experience at Park Avenue in 2023-24 and realistically Railers ought to be a top 6 side this season at the very least.
LAST SEASON: EYHL 2 RUNNER-UP (ULSTER PREMIER DIVISION WINNERS)
Ulster Elks won their Ulster Premier Division title last season with a 100% record and only lost two competitive matches an Irish Senior Cup tie and the EYHL 2 final. The addition of Leah Maguire the former UCD and Pembroke Wanderer defender will make them even more difficult to score against and that should provide them with the platform necessary to secure their place in the EYHL Division 1 again next season.
LAST SEASON: EYHL DIVISION 1 CHAMPIONS
The students won their first EYHL Women’s Division 1 title in 5 years last season by securing the title on the final day of the season after Loreto lost away to Pembroke Wanderers. But there have been a few changes as some of the players that secured that title have graduated and moved back to their original clubs. The loss of Ireland internationals Michelle and Niamh Carey (both to Railway Union) and Hannah McLoughlin (to Loreto) will be keenly felt even though, the UCD scholarship programme has been very successful at attracting some of the best young talent back into the club to replace their experience, it may take some time for the newbies to settle in so retention of their title might be a big ask. The three departees were three of the top four goalscorers in the club last season. A good Senior Cup run and a tilt at the Champions Trophy might be more realistic targets for 2023-24. Mikalyla Power, newly arrived from Old Alexandra, will be hoping to score some of the goals lost by the departure of the big three mentioned earlier.