Whisper it, but there are two teams in the men’s Ulster Premier League who are determined to gatecrash the Irish Hockey League for next season.
Since the IHL’s inception, it has been Lisnagarvey, Banbridge, Cookstown, Annadale and Instonians who have qualified each time, but now Civil Service and Kilkeel are hoping they can break that stranglehold.
While the ‘big five’ have been involved in the IHL three times this season already, the remaining teams have been getting ahead in their Ulster programme ... and it’s Service and the Mournemen who are looking good, with two wins out of three to date.
This Saturday, though, the duo meet head-on, and the outcome will give a definite hint on whether one or both are real contenders or not.
Service, who now look a real threat under Gareth Grundie’s leadership, have home advantage but you can never rule out Kilkeel who have underlined they can win away from their Mourne stronghold too.
The only other Premier game sees bottom team North Down take on Mossley, knowing they need a win soon or relegation will stare them in the face.