Banbridge have confirmed that they will be competing in a full IHL next season just days after clinching the Ulster Premier League.
Bann and Lisnagarvey both confirmed their places as expected while Cookstown, Annadale and Instonians also announced they intend to take their places, the latter facing a play-off next weekend.
It all comes after Banbridge secured the Ulster title without defeat last week, a victory made extra special because it means Bann end their spell in Ulster as champions.
Coach Mark Tumilty paid tribute to his young stars after the title was secured.
They made sure of that with a 3-0 victory over Instonians and a final 3-3 draw with Lisnagarvey at Havelock, also making sure they completed a league season unbeaten for the second time in three years.
“Its important to highlight the role the likes of Jake Rowe, Sam Farson and Timmy Watt played when they came in and played a lot of games,” said the boss.
“We must have played 12 games without Eugene and a lot of games without Owen (Magee) and Johnny McKee. It’s more than just the 16 that were involved in the Irish Cup. It’s a squad of about 23 players and it’s a credit to them.
“They focused on every game and while we played weaker opposition, they produced some fantastic hockey. They have set those standards so that’s what I expect from them now. Its also nice to win because it’s the last time we’ll play in the Ulster League.”
Bann had already won the title the week before, but that was pending Lisnagarvey’s protest against their points deduction. Boss Tumilty was delighted with how professionally the team completed the campaign
“I thought we played well last Tuesday which is difficult enough coming off the back of the Irish Cup final,” he said.
“I thought Eugene was fantastic. He took both his goals very well.
“It was just nice to get it done and dusted. It took us into the 40 odd minute to score and the longer it goes on you get those doubts that they are going to go and nick one.
“Going unbeaten was never really a goal of mine. Once you get to that stage in the season where you think you have a chance then it gave us something in the last game to focus on.”