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Corry joy as Euro hockey to return to Garvey after 30 years

 

Major boost: James Corry is excited about Euro quest
Major boost: James Corry is excited about Euro quest

By John Flack

Lisnagarvey is to host the men's EuroHockey Club Challenge II tournament at their Comber Road headquarters in Hillsborough at the end of next May.

It will be the first time since 1989, when they staged the old European Club Championship B Division competition at their former Sprucefield base and finished runners-up, that the club has held such an event.

Garvey qualified for the tournament by winning the EY Irish Hockey League regulation season title last April before going on to lose to Three Rock Rovers in the play-off final at Banbridge.

Rovers will be contesting the last-16 of the Euro series in Barcelona next month as their reward, while Garvey prepare to stage the third-tier competition back in Northern Ireland.

Qualification is retrospective and captain James Corry's side dropped down a division due to the fact that Glenanne relegated Ireland when competing in the second tier last season, finishing bottom of their pool.

As a consequence, promotion will be the obvious objective for Garvey and it certainly looks like an achievable one as they will be up against lower-ranked opposition.

They will take on Czech side Litice, Whitchurch of Wales and Danes Slagelse in the group stages, needing a top-two finish overall to promote next season's Irish representatives.

Captain Corry said: "It's great to be having such a big European hockey event in the area, and even better that it's staged at probably one of the best club set-ups in Ireland.

"The club has worked extremely hard behind the scenes in applying to host the tournament and we are all delighted that it has paid off.

"The hard work starts now to ensure it's a successful tournament both on and off the pitch, but having it at home will allow us to have a full squad available and will give us the best possible chance to get promoted."

For now, though, the focus for Garvey will remain on domestic matters as they prepare to begin their defence of the IHL title tomorrow when Pembroke Wanderers visit Comber Road, and Corry is expecting a very tough contest for his side.

He added: "It's probably one of the toughest opening matches as Pembroke seem to have recruited well, but we have been working hard in pre-season and it should be a great opening game at our place."

Banbridge, who sneaked into the top four last season, welcome back Owen Magee, who has returned after a season in Belgium, as they prepare to travel to Dublin to face Monkstown, who look like an improved side under new coach Gordon Cracknell.

Owen's brother Eugene, Ireland most-capped male player, said: "We want to do better than last season and it's been going well with Gordon, who has great attention to detail and is a really nice man with it."

Annadale are also in Dublin tomorrow as they square up to newly-promoted Corinthian, who have signed prolific Ireland striker Peter Caruth, who will be relishing a clash against his former team-mates.

Dale have also lost Callum Robson, who has moved to Krefelder in Germany, Rory Capper, who has gone to England, and talented youngster Paddy Crookshanks, who is off to university across the water.

Results: Women's Senior Cup: Armagh 2 (E Mackey, G Frazer) Portadown 0; Club KV 2 (J Doak 2) Dromore 1 (A Wilson); Priorians 4 (J Kennedy 2 R McSparron, N Lowry) Ballymena 1 (C Gillespie).

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