Munster have regularly been a distant third in this competition, with player population an issue as only five schools — Limerick’s Villiers, Newtown in Waterford and the Cork trio of Bandon Grammar, Ashton, and Midleton — play boys hockey competitively.
The challenge facing coaches Chris Blaney (U18s) and George Blackwell (U16s) is moulding a small but quality pool of talent into a competent unit to put it up to Leinster and Ulster, whom they will both play twice over the weekend at Queens University.
Elsewhere, Cork Harlequins face a major challenge as they bid to bounce back from their first women’s EY Hockey League defeat last weekend.
Stephen Dale’s charges blinked first in the battle of the 100% records at Rathdown last weekend, losing 3-2 to a late Nikki Evans winner against Hermes/Monkstown.
Third-placed UCD are on the heels of the top two and come calling to Farmers Cross tomorrow. Between them, Quins and UCD boast 10 members of the current Ireland training panel so expect a high-quality affair, although the newest cap of those, Roisin Upton, misses out as she acts as assistant coach to University of Connecticut in as they seek a third US title in four years.
While the Munster men’s leagues take the weekend off to accommodate the interpros, it’s an incredibly busy weekend in women’s club hockey. As well as the EYHL, there’s Munster Division 1A, Irish Hockey Challenge and Irish Junior Cup action.
Bandon and Ashton are both looking to break out of the chasing pack to challenge Catholic Institute and Cork C of I in Munster, and three points for either would be a big statement in what is a dress rehearsal for the following weekend’s Irish Hockey Trophy clash between the sides.
Four Munster sides meet in the Irish Junior Cup. Ashton host C of I as Bandon visit Quins. UCC, welcome Ulster’s Lisnagarvey.
- Ireland captain David Harte has been nominated for the FIH 2016 Goalkeeper of the Year. Harte currently holds the title having picking up the award last year.