No simple solution for Bann

Banbridge Hockey Club have had a tough decision process ahead of Sunday's IHL vote. Pic: Rowland White / Presseye.
Banbridge Hockey Club have had a tough decision process ahead of Sunday's IHL vote. Pic: Rowland White / Presseye.

Sunday’s Irish Hockey Association EGM has caused much discussion all over the island and the committee room at Banbridge Hockey Club has been no different.

The club will take their seat in the Stillorgan Park Hotel at 11.30am on Sunday morning to cast their vote on proposals to introduce a full two-tier Irish Hockey League season to the men’s game and a full season IHL Division One for the ladies with IHL2 taking the form of an end-of-season tournament.

With the men’s and ladies clubs in banbridge now one club, they will only have one vote on the proposals and it the complicated considerations for both sides of the club that have made their decision on how to vote such a hard one to make.

“It has caused a lot of discussion within the club because we have to look out for both the men’s and the ladies’ sides of the club,” explained Vice-President Neil Madeley.

“We are also part of Ulster Hockey and, whatever happens on Sunday, it will have huge impications for their Premier League.

“We are going to go and excercise our vote but we are having to weigh up all the pros and cons but it’s difficult because what is right for one half of the club may not be what’s right for the other half.
“We have to look after our main priorities and where we want to be.”

“We will be making that point at the vote because it’s unfair to amalgamated clubs to bracket them all under the one vote. Our ladies would be aspiring to get to that level and it’s probably unclear at the minute what effect a yes vote would have on the ladies game.

“That’s a major factor for us and we have been discussing it but at the same time we are in a position at the minute to challenge at the highest level in the men’s game. Our men’s team is aspiring to be at the top of Irish hockey, as we always have done.

“In that context, we have to take into account the implications of not going down that route.”

The Men’s Head Coach Mark Tumilty said he believes an full Irish Hockey League is the only way forward for the men’s game and, while Madeley understand his view-point, there has been much for the club to consider.

“The men’s players and coaches want to be at the top level but they are not the be all and end all,” said Madeley. “There are financials implcations, the ladies side of things and also what effects it would have on Ulster hockey. We have to do what’s right overall.”