BANBRIDGE’S two hockey clubs have merged following their respective AGMs last Monday.

At the two historic meetings Banbridge Hockey Club agreed new rules to allow for the ladies teams to play under the name whilst the Ladies Club passed a motion in favour of full integration with the men’s club.

A new governing structure has now also been established and an Executive Committee was elected.

Outgoing President of Banbridge Hockey Club Jonto Walker stated; “This is a positive move for both clubs. We have been working for some time on a possible amalgamation and I am delighted that formal agreement has now been reached. Banbridge Hockey Club is one of the most successful clubs on the island of Ireland and we firmly believe that this development will strengthen the club further.”

Alison Wilson, immediate Past President of Banbridge Ladies added; “While it is sad to see the official end of Banbridge Ladies Hockey Club after 67 years, we recognise that there are many benefits in integrating with the men’s club.

“Banbridge Ladies has just completed our most successful season in recent history with all three Senior Teams gaining promotion in their respective leagues, our Junior Club is thriving and was recently awarded ‘Clubmark’ status. We look forward to building on this further with the combined ambition and expertise within Banbridge Hockey Club in this new era.”

At the Annual General Meeting, Neil Madeley was elected as new President of Banbridge Hockey Club with Sheree Totton as Vice-President.

Commenting on his election Mr Madeley said, “This is an historic moment for Banbridge Hockey Club and it is an honour to be elected as President of the Club. While the new set up will present challenges, I look forward to taking the Club forward at this time and chairing our newly elected Executive Committee. I would like to thank all of those who were involved in the amalgamation committee in getting us to this point.

“This merger will increase our capacity to drive success in the Men’s, Ladies and Junior sections. We aim to further develop the club as the premier integrated, family oriented, hockey club in Ireland offering an attractive sporting and social environment for all players, to be competing at the highest possible level of Irish hockey in both the men’s and ladies sections and to offer the highest standard of coaching and technical support for all our players.”

Banbridge District Council has also supported this development. Gillian Dewart, the council’s Sports Development Officer, “The integration of Banbridge Ladies and Men’s Hockey Clubs is a welcomed development in the sports club infrastructure in the district. Working together as one club presents an excellent opportunity to strengthen the sport of hockey in Banbridge.”

The new Executive Committee is as follows: President, Neil Madeley; Vice-President - Sheree Totton; Honorary Secretary - John Bell; Honorary Treasurer - Lee Tumilty. Executive Committee members: Nigel Allister, Douglas Anderson, Julie Craig, Patrick Grimes, Aileen Lawson, Jo-Anne Lyttle, Alison Wilson, Jonto Walker.