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Pegasus coach Arlene Boyles rejects 'super clubs' fear over expanded EY Irish Hockey League

By John Flack

Published 23/09/2015

Ready: Katie Mullan of Ulster Elks at IHL launch in Dublin
Ready: Katie Mullan of Ulster Elks at IHL launch in Dublin

Pegasus coach Arlene Boyles has rejected the notion that the expanded EY Irish Hockey League, which gets under way this weekend, will create so-called super clubs.

The prospect of players migrating to teams participating in the IHL from others who remain in the residual Ulster Premier League was one of several concerns expressed by the local governing body when the idea of an expanded IHL was first mooted.

Ulster Hockey's attitude reflected the view that an increase in player movement out of the domestic league would be detrimental to the standard of the game in the province.

However, Boyles argues, with some justification, that player migration has always been par for the course in Ulster hockey, although in this case the girls concerned will be lost to hockey in the province.

Pegasus, who, like the two other IHL teams from Ulster, will play only in the two national competitions, have signed several players who would otherwise have been unable to line out at the top level in Ireland.

Goalkeeper Sammy-Jo Greer has been recruited from Ballymoney, while former Queen's players Katie Morris and Hannah McMillan and Ireland Under-18 ace Rosie Henderson (ex-Harlequins) have also joined.

Ards have signed former Queen's keeper Ashley McIlroy and ex-Armagh stars Alana Doyle and Scarlett Holdsworth, while the Ulster Elks squad has been boosted by the arrival of Hannah Irwin, who also played for the Orchard County.

"I don't really get this because players, with a view to bettering their hockey, have moved from club to club for years but suddenly now they are called 'super clubs'," said Boyles.

However, Harlequins stalwart Roisin Larmour presents a counter-argument after losing 16-year-old Henderson.

"The pool for new senior signings appears to be ever decreasing and now it would seem that schoolgirls are now the target for other clubs," she said.

"We would be lying if we said we are not disappointed to lose Rosie, who had been with us since she was just nine and was very much a product of our junior development programme."

Boyles is fully in favour of the new all-Ireland league, which gets under way on Saturday when Pegasus contest a local derby at Ards while the Elks, including ace Katie Mullan, host Pembroke Wanderers.

Ards welcome back former internationals Emma Reid and Tamara Macleod from holiday after they missed the Marie Curie Cup.

Meanwhile, the Denman Ulster Shield continues tonight and there's a full programme in the Premier League and Senior One on Saturday.

Belfast Telegraph

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