Banbridge Hockey Club playing host to Europe’s elite

12 top clubs at Havelock Park to compete in round one of Euro Hockey Leaque

Perhaps the biggest club event to take place in Ireland is being hosted by Banbridge on Friday and through Saturday and Sunday as 12 of the best clubs in Europe arrive for the Euro Hockey League (EHL).

The EHL which comprises the very top club sides on the European continent will compete in Havelock Park for what is the biggest challenge the host club and the Irish representatives Banbridge have ever faced.

Modern times

The competition comes quickly after Ireland’s first representation in the Olympic Games in modern times with Banbridge’s

Eugene Magee


the local Olympian.

It is sure to be the highest level of club hockey in the country this season, some of the teams playing at international level.

The competition features 24 clubs from 12 different countries around the continent and round one has four groups of three teams battling it out over the weekend for four places into the knockout 16-team stage.

The knockout round takes place next Easter, when the Irish Hockey League champions, Lisnagarvey, enter the competition.

Banbridge are in a group with French champions Saint Germain, who they meet on Saturday at 2.45pm before facing Belgium's Royal Leopold, a side captained by Olympic silver medalist Elliot van Strydonck, on Sunday.

Irish captain and goalkeeper David Harte will be another attraction with his star studded Dutch club SV Kampong, who play in Pool A.

Their Saturday evening tie with England's Holcombe at 5pm is another interesting head to head featuring a number of Rio players.

Three-time champions UHC Hamburg from Germany have a trio of 2012 Olympic gold medalists in their rank.

They are in a group with Welsh champions Cardiff & Met and SG Amsicora from Italy.

For those hoping to travel up to the event, The Co Down club has installed of two banks of seated stands along with a tented village.

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times