Garvey and Bann must wait for derby showdown
The schedule for the new EY Irish Hockey League season has been released - and the big clashes between Ulster giants Lisnagarvey and Banbridge have been pencilled in for November 16 and April 4.
Garvey, who won the title last season, will begin their campaign against Dublin side Pembroke Wanderers on September 21 at Hillsborough.
And their other games up to the halfway stage are away to Annadale (September 28), home to Monkstown (September 29), home to Three Rock Rovers (October 12), away to YMCA (October 19), and home to UCD (November 9) and then that first Ulster derby against Bann at Hillsborough.
Bann start their programme at Monkstown and then have EY Irish Champions Trophy winners Three Rock Rovers at Havelock Park followed by UCD at the same venue.
Annadale also start in Dublin at Corinthian before hosting Garvey and then Glenanne.
There will be a winter break for around 10 weeks, starting around the end of November, before the second half of the season hits off again in the middle of February.
Instonians are in Pool A in the IHL 2 along with Leinster duo Avoca and Railway Union as well as Munster's Cork C of I.
They will start their programme in Dublin against Avoca.
Cookstown and Kilkeel are in Pool B along with Leinster's Clontarf and Munster's Cork Harlequins.
The second tier pool programme starts on October 12 and finishes on April 4.
The two Ulster sides start with a derby clash at the Tyrone venue.
Meanwhile, the Irish Under-16s and Irish Under-18s will be playing Scotland tomorrow afternoon and again on Monday at the University of Ulster Jordanstown.
The Under-16s and Under-18s are preparing for Six Nations tournaments in Eindhoven from July 14-20 and have seven Ulster players in each squad.
The Irish Under-21s are getting ready for the European Championships in the Czech Republic over the same July dates and will be playing their Scottish counterparts at Stormont this afternoon and tomorrow.
The Ulster contingent for the Under-16s are Sullivan Upper's Patrick Rose and Conor Matthews, Max Anderson (Cookstown High), Matthew Aughey (Friends), James Clark (Methodist College Belfast), Kent Irwin (Lagan College) and Edward Rowe (Banbridge Academy), and their games at UUJ are tomorrow (3.15pm) and Monday (12pm).
The Ulster players with the Under-18s are Jonny Lynch and Troy Chambers (Wallace High), Harry Scott and Oliver Kidd (Friends), Scott Dale (Banbridge Academy), Sam Hamill (Regent House) and Stewart Wylie (Cookstown High), with their games due at UUJ tomorrow (1.30pm) and Monday (10am).
A handful of Ulster players dropped out of the U18 programme for a variety of reasons, including the high cost of playing and the big demand on raising sponsorship.
The Ulster contingent for the Under-21s is Luke Roleston, Luke Witherow and Alex Tinney (Banbridge), Scott McCabe (Queen's), Josh McCabe (Cookstown), Matthew Crookshanks (Beeston) and Callum Robson (Annadale and Krefeld), with their games earmarked for Stormont this afternoon (3.30pm) and tomorrow (2.30pm).
Crookshanks is the only one currently playing his hockey away from Ulster, having completed his first season with top English club, Nottingham-based Beeston.