Bandon continue treble pursuit in cup semi-final

Bandon’s drive for a treble continues with their men hot favourites to overcome Ashton in a Munster Senior Cup semi-final.

Bandon continue treble pursuit in cup semi-final

It is part of yet another busy end of season for Ali Smith and his troops. The Cork side have an eight-point lead over UCC with two rounds of the regular season to play before the top three are split for a mini-league.

As such, that crown looks all but assured along with a ticket to the EY Hockey League promotion play-offs.

In addition, they were also rewarded with a home draw against Bangor in the Irish Hockey Trophy semi-final.

Should they miss out on promotion to the EYHL, they should have the fall-back of a place in the newly introduced Irish Hockey League 2, a second tier national competition which will further change the club landscape.

The purpose is to increase the competitiveness of the sides looking to bridge the gap from the provincial competition.

Currently, the top two in Munster — on both the men’s and women’s sections — will go into the competition which will feature two sets of five teams playing round-robin groups on a home and away basis, leading into play-offs which will act as the new promotion method.

How this tallies with the Munster leagues will be teased out in the coming weeks with a workshop for players and officials.

At a meeting in Leinster last week, those in attendance learned this would mean eight to 10 extra matches with none currently being taken away, meaning an incredibly busy schedule. With cups taken into account, teams could play between 31 and 40 matches across a 32 week season.

For the southern province, with smaller leagues and shorter cup competitions, the issue may not be as acute but consideration will be given to reducing the divisions.

The further elephant in the room is what it will mean for umpires. The start of the national division was delayed after a stand-off over expenses for appointments.

The new IHL2 division will lead to far more appointments on the national stage, good for umpire development but it will put the squeeze on the small pool with increased travel.

Elsewhere, Cork C of I will anticipate a far better outing against Lisnagarvey than the 10-0 away drubbing before Christmas in the EYHL.

On the women’s side, the back matches of the Irish Senior Cup are being played, meaning a limited programme. Belfast Harlequins finally face Pembroke in their second round match, initially due to have been played in November.

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