The EY Hockey League Men’s Division 1 commences for 2023-24 this coming Saturday Sept 16 with a full program of 5 matches.
10 teams will play each other home and away over 18 rounds to decide the League title. In addition, the top 6 will contest the end of season EY Champions Trophy, which will also decide which Club represents Ireland at European Club level hockey.
Banbridge had a clean sweep last season, winning both the League title and Champions Trophy as well as adding the Irish Senior Cup title to their extraordinary treble. Lisnagarvey came 2nd in the League and also were the beaten finalists in the Irish Senior Cup. YMCA secured 3rd place on goal difference from Three Rock Rovers in 4th. Glenanne, having begun the season strongly, ended up 5th. Monkstown and Annadale filled 6th and 7th place respectively. Instonians were in the bottom three most of the season but survived by finishing seven points clear of the bottom two in 8th place.
The two new clubs in this season’s EYHL Men’s Division 1, UCD and Corinthians were newly promoted at the end of last season replacing Cookstown and Pembroke Wanderers who by finishing in the bottom two places last season suffered automatic relegation to the Ulster Premier Division and Leinster Division 1A respectively.
Fixtures: Saturday 16th September:
- Monkstown v UCD, Rathdown, 13:00
- Three Rock Rovers v Corinthian, Grange Road, 13:00
- Banbridge v YMCA, Havelock Park, 14:45
- Lisnagarvey v Instonians, Comber Road, 15:00
- Glenanne v Annadale, Glenanne Park, 15:00
EYHL 2023-24 Club Overviews:
THREE ROCK ROVERS
LAST SEASON: 4TH
Three Rock Rovers begin the new season with a young squad who will be hoping to improve on last season’s fourth place finish in the EY Hockey League. New coach Ashlin Freddy, replaces his fellow countryman South African Elun Hack, after a spell working with his homeland at the Tokyo Olympics and the winning FIH Nations Cup side last December. Irish Under 21 International Evan Jennings returns after a year away on an Erasmus, former Wales International James Kyriakides returns after a season with Waterford, and younger players Oscare Pasley, goalkeeper James Coffey, Zach Silverman and Sam Rothwell step up from the Underage section. They will hook up with veteran Ali Haughton and recently capped senior Internationals Ben Johnson who was joined in the Irish shirt by clubmates Mark Samuel and Ali Empey both of whom made their senior debuts this summer. Three Rock will be hoping to finish higher than fourth this season but secure a Champions Trophy berth nevertheless.
LAST SEASON: WON EYHL 2 (1ST IN LEINSTER DIVISION 1A)
Corinthians, gained promotion from Leinster Division 1 and EYHL 2 last season, making it a promotion double alongside their senior women’s team who did likewise, after winning both divisions whilst being unbeaten. They have gained a few new players, be it in the form of returnees from studies/work, players who are moving to Dublin as well as some Leinster movement. The squad has great continuity as well as a nice age balance with youth players making the step up, a core group between ages 23-28, with some older heads adding the experience and know how. The aim is to maintain top flight status but also continue to build on the massive strides made as a group over the last few years. Goalscoring has been a strength in the past and they will continue to look to create chances with their speed and linkups, but will also need to focus on being more defensively tight than their previous EY1 campaign in order to stay up and progress.
LAST SEASON: 6TH
Monkstown came a disappointing 6th in last season’s League campaign and a glut of injuries midway through the campaign came back to haunt them at the end of the season. The number of defeats in the run up to Christmas as a result of missing those players is something that hampered them last season. This year they will be looking to improve on 6th place and be challenging for honours. Irish internationals Lee Cole and Jeremy Duncan are among the key performers for the Rathdown based side this season. They begin their season with a battle against fellow Sky Blues UCD at Rathdown School and there has been a number of performers over the years who have played for both clubs and this season will be no different in that regard.
LAST SEASON: EYHL 2 RUNNERS-UP (3RD IN LEINSTER DIVISION 1A)
The students returned to the topflight despite a disappointing first half of the season, back on the same level as their Women’s team in the topflight of the EYHL. Unbeaten in the Leinster Division 1A after Christmas they carried this form into their EYHL 2 campaign and reached the final thus securing their place in the topflight for the current season. Defeat to Corinthians in that decider meant it was runners up medals for the squad who will be competing in the top Division for the first time since 2021-22 after only one season in Leinster Division 1A. All promoted sides need to pick up their first win early into the campaign to avoid being basement battlers all season long. This time around the target, for UCD, will be to retain their position in the topflight this season and build on the track record they had under a former coach Michael Styles when they were last in the EYHL Division reaching their first Senior Cup Final in 2020. Key players include Irish international Kevin O’Dea .
LAST SEASON: 1ST IN EYHL, EY CHAMPIONS TROPHY and IRISH SENIOR CUP WINNERS
Banbridge had a season of the ages last year winning the EYHL title and adding the Irish Senior Cup to make a double. They also added the Champions Trophy ensuring EHL qualification as well. Eugene Magee, former international retired at the end of last season at the ripe old age of 37 and he will be a big loss. However, Banbridge have a knack of developing talent and have a production line coming from Banbridge Academy and their own structures churning out fine young players on a consistent basis and it won’t be much of a surprise to see them having yet another successful campaign. Experienced midfielder Philip Brown who missed the latter half of 2022-23 through injury should be available to begin the campaign which may well be his final one as a player.
LAST SEASON: 3RD
YMCA had an outstanding season finishing in 3rd place last season. They pipped Three Rock Rovers to that position on goal difference beating Instonians 7-2 on the final day of the season to secure it on goal difference. They did finish 6 points behind second placed Lisnagarvey and 10 points behind League Champions Banbridge and they will be looking to narrow that gap if not close it altogether and try to bring a League title back to Wesley College at season’s end. Former coach Jason Klinkradt has moved on so a change in direction at this stage, under the new coach, could go one of two ways.
LAST SEASON: 2ND
Lisnagarvey were second in the League last season having led it for several weeks. They reached the Irish Senior Cup Final too but came up short on the day against Banbridge. They also lost to Banbridge during the Champions Trophy campaign so they must be eager to back to winning ways this season having dominated the League in previous seasons. Garvey should be among the favourites to potentially steal Banbridge’s crown, but it should be a very competitive Division this year all round. Like Bann, Garvey only lost 1 League game last season, but 6 draws in an 18-game program is what did the damage to the Comber Road outfit’s championship aspirations. Turning those draws into wins this time around could be the key to winning the title.
LAST SEASON: 8TH
Instonians escaped the drop last season and will be looking to consolidate a bit further up the table during 2023-24 season. They begin their campaign with a very difficult away trip to Comber Road to take on a Lisnagarvey side who were runners-up in both League and Cup to double winning, near neighbours, Banbridge. Although Instonians finished 7 points clear of relegation in the end, it was touch and go for several weeks for the club. Their target must be to avoid the bottom 3 to 4 spaces in the table this season. They will need to improve defensively as they conceded 66 goals last season, almost twice as many as 7th placed Annadale.
LAST SEASON: 5TH
Glenanne had been in contention for the title most of the season but ended their league campaign 12 points behind eventual winners Banbridge in 5th place. This would have been seen as a disappointing end to the season. Goals scored won’t be a problem for them this season as Glenanne were the second highest scorers in the Division last season, but they conceded over two per game and will need to be a bit tighter at the back to be real title contenders in 2023-2024.
LAST SEASON: 7TH
Annadale had a very mixed season. At one point they seemed to be knocking on the door for a top 5 finish but fell away. This year they will be looking to improve on a 7th place finish which saw them finish 13 points clear of Instonians but only one league position above them. With Irish international Tim Cross hopefully returned to fitness, after an injury that kept him out of the international squad during the summer, they should do better this season.
Other Hockey fixtures this weekend:
Inter Provincial Series, Sunday 17th September
Munster v Leinster, UCC, 12:00
Munster v Leinster, UCC, 14:00