The Euro Hockey League (EHL) lands in
Ireland for the first time on Friday morning as 12 of Europeâs best clubs
arrive in Banbridgeâs Havelock Park for Round 1 of the competition.
Hot on the heels of Irelandâs first
Olympic campaign in over a century, the EHL is another significant event for
Irish hockey, giving local fans the chances to see over 15 Olympians â including
a series of medalists â up close and in the flesh for the first time.
And Eugene Magee â Bannâs own Olympian â
said it is a huge honour for his club to put on such a show with plenty of
âIt will be a great day for
hockey in Banbridge,â Magee said. âWe have hosted Irish Hockey League finals in
previous years and created a great atmosphere for both supporters and players
so really looking forward to the EHL.
âWe have always been a
passionate club; we play with a lot of heart and I think the supporters
appreciate that. Other sports in the local area tend to come to support us too
like golf, soccer, hurling and cycling.
âWe hope that this EHL will be
a spectacle that the whole town can be proud of and if the Irish hockey league
finals that weâve hosted are anything to go by, it should be!â
The EHL is the equivalent of footballâs
Champions League, featuring 24 clubs from 12 different countries around the
Round 1 sees four groups of three teams
battling it out over the weekend for four tickets to the KO16 stage, the
knock-out rounds that take place next Easter. EY Hockey League champions
Lisnagarvey enter the competition at that stage.
Banbridge are in a group with French
champions Saint Germain who they play on Saturday at 2.45pm before meeting
Belgiumâs Royal Leopold, a side captained by Olympic silver medalist Elliot van
Strydonck, on Sunday at 3.45pm.
âBoth will be a tough test for
us,â Magee adds. âThe French teams have previously been very good and play with
a fast tempo but are also very physical. The Genestet brothers will be ones to
watch out for on that team.
âLeopold already had a quality
side and the addition of [Australian striker] Glen Turner will be
something that we will have to manage but I think with the talent we have in
Banbridge we will put up a good fight.â
Irish captain David Harte will be
another star attraction with his Dutch club SV Kampong in Pool A. Their
Saturday evening tie with Englandâs Holcombe at 5pm is another big tie
featuring several players who were in Rio. They share a group with outsiders KS
AZS AWF Poznan who play on Friday against Holcombe and Sunday against Kampong.
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 champs Cardiff & Met and Italyâs SG Amsicora.
Pool D looks a well-matched one with
Spainâs Atletic Terrassa, Russiaâs Dinamo Kazan and Scotlandâs Bromac Kelburne.
The Co Down venue has been transformed
for the event with the addition of two banks of seated stands along with a
tented village with food stalls and sports shops while there is a full evening
programme of entertainment each night.
** Each game will be live-streamed on www.ehlhockey.tv
where you can also find information about each club, match schedules and all
other news about the event. For more information, contact EHL media officer
Stephen Findlater on firstname.lastname@example.org
or 00 353 86 80 44 238.
EHL ROUND1 fixture schedule
Friday, October 7
Pool D: Bromac Kelburne (SCO) v Dinamo
Kazan (RUS), 11.45am
Pool B: Cardiff & Met (WAL) v SG
Amsicora (ITA), 2pm
Pool C: Royal Leopold (BEL) v Saint
Germain (FRA), 4.15pm
Pool A: KS AZS AWF Poznan (POL) v
Holcombe (ENG), 6.30pm
Saturday, October 8
Pool D: Atletic Terrassa (ESP) v Dinamo