Irish clubs’ Euro boost

IRELAND will have two representatives at the top table of European club hockey next season, it was confirmed yesterday.

Thanks to Three Rock Rovers’ achievements in reaching the last 16 of the EuroHockey League (EHL) and Pembroke Wanderers’ success in winning the EuroHockey Club Trophy last weekend, Ireland has jumped three places in the EHL rankings.

Ireland surged ahead of Scotland, Poland and Russia to move from 10th to seventh in the official rankings released yesterday. Poland maintain their two entries, but Scotland were the big losers, going from two spots down to one.

With the Irish Hockey Association deeming that the winners of the Irish Hockey League (IHL) and Irish Senior Cup (ISC) will take the two available spots, it represents a huge opportunity for Cookstown.

Despite failing to win a single game in the IHL — which is played under much of the same rules as the EHL — they have progressed to their first ISC final in 22 years.

Champions Pembroke will provide the opposition next weekend, and the Dubliners are also in with a shout of winning the IHL. Should they carry off both titles, the IHL runners-up will take the second EHL slot.

Meanwhile, the women’s junior interprovincials get underway this weekend at Jordanstown in Belfast without a full complement of teams for the second successive season.

Munster pulled out last term, citing a lack of player interest, while this time around Leinster have withdrawn, highlighting a fixture backlog — due to bad weather and having four teams reach the Irish Junior Cup semi-finals — for being unable to hold player trials. High-profile figures in Irish hockey have in the past claimed inter-pro tournaments are an unnecessary drain on resources at adult level; Leinster’s withdrawal could see that argument resurface at branch AGMs.

Three other interpro tournaments are going ahead this weekend with all teams present and correct; Lisnagarvey host the men’s junior tournament, while the women’s and men’s U-21 competitions are down for decision at Grange Road in Dublin.

Cork native Jason Lynch will once again line out for Ulster against his native province, while Ulster also appear to hold the aces in the women’s competition, boasting a squad with eight Irish senior and A internationals.

Elsewhere, Three Rock Rovers have announced that Dutchman Maarten Bos will take over the coaching reins next season, replacing Turloch Ó Siocháin, who is moving to Bristol after a successful four-year tenure


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