Tough task facing Banbridge and Lisnagarvey
Irish clubs facing top-quality opposition in Euro Hockey League
Mark Tumilty: “We had a fantastic experience at Banbridge and are now focused on Eindhoven and the Racing game.” Photograph: Paul Walsh/Inpho
Irish hopes rest with Ulster sides Banbridge and Lisnagarvey when they travel to Eindhoven for the Euro Hockey League this weekend.
The two premier Irish sides from last season are also in contention to win the Irish Hockey League this year as the domestic competition goes into its final phase over the coming weeks.
No Irish team has gone further than the quarter-finals of the Euro Hockey League with both Irish sides up against some of the best teams in Europe.
Banbridge negotiated phase one of the competition back in October and face Racing Club de France at 11.45am on Friday in their first game of the weekend. Lisnagarvey are in action on Saturday morning against Spanish side Atletic Terrassa, both very strong club sides.
Teressa have been one of the top sides in Europe for some time and reached the final four last season, a mark they are hoping to repeat and better this time around.
It is the 16-team knockout phase of the competition with the Irish sides needing to win their matches to progress to the eight-team knockout round on Sunday. In that sense both Banbridge and Lisnagarvey are looking to create history.
Banbridge are currently the premier team in Ireland with the Irish Senior Cup already won and currently sitting on top of the IHL on the same points as Three Rock Rovers but a better goal difference.
Lisnagarvey, who had a number of players step down at the end of last season and who are not quite the force they were, are third placed on the IHL table seven points behind but on schedule for a place in the playoffs when they return from Europe.
“We had a fantastic experience at Banbridge and are now focused on Eindhoven and the Racing game,” said Banbridge coach Mark Tumilty.
“We have had an excellent season to date and now have an opportunity to add to that by trying to reach KO8. Our guys are now fully focused on EHL.”