Inter-pros on centre stage as Irish Hockey League games still in doubt
The Ulster U16 and U18 squads bid for inter-provincial glory in Dublin this weekend - and the good news is that they will have official umpires to cover their games.
At the moment, the same can't be said for those teams involved in the EY Irish Hockey League, with both men's and women's games possibly having to be called off for the second successive week as the impasse between Hockey Ireland and the Irish Hockey Umpires' Association over remuneration and other issues continues to roll on.
But the boys' inter-pros won't be affected as the umpires' request is aimed at the IHL where they are asking for a €70 fee with a reduced €55 for Irish cup competitions.
Both inter-pros will take place at Three Rock's Grange Road ground in the south Dublin foothills from Friday through to Sunday afternoon and, unlike last season when icy weather disrupted the programme, the weather forecast is good.
Ulster's Under-18s travel south feeling optimistic, with Adam Louden's lads having already claimed silver at the recent UK School Games.
All 16 from that weekend are included as well as RBAI's Finlay Marney and Wallace High's Jonny Lynch, and with a handful already playing at senior level, it's easy to understand their optimism.
Twins Matthew and Harry Morris are included - they celebrated their 17th birthdays two days ago - while Ben Nelson follows in the footsteps of older brothers Matthew and Daniel, as does Tom Robson with brothers Michael and Callum.
As always, the Ulster Under-16s show big changes from last year but coach Shirley McCay still has a talented group to work with.
The Ulster teams play their Leinster counterparts on Friday, their Munster counterparts on Saturday as well as their second game against Leinster, and complete their programmes with the second game against Munster on Sunday - six games in three days.
ULSTER U16s: Ross Stewart (Banbridge Acad), Harrison Dunlop (Sullivan), Max Anderson (Cookstown High), Matthew Aughey (Friends), Matthew Campton (Methody), Troy Chambers (Wallace High), Chris Curry (Banbridge Acad), DJay Erskine (Sullivan), Conor Irwin (Friends), Kent Irwin (Lagan Coll.), Tom McClintock (Sullivan), Conor Quinn (Friends), Patrick Rose (Sullivan), Eddie Rowe (Banbridge Acad.), Max Taylor (Wallace High), Michael Trimble (Sullivan), Matthew Vincent (Grosvenor), Stewart Wylie (Cookstown High)
ULSTER U18s: Scott Dale (Banbridge Acad.), Finlay Marney (RBAI), Mark Barlow (Banbridge Acad.), Callum Carson (Sullivan), Harry Dow (Bangor GS), Andrew Edgar (Friends), Fergus Gibson (Sullivan), Stephen Hamill (Bangor GS), Jack Haycock (Cookstown High), Patrick Hunter (Wallace High), Oliver Kidd (Friends), Jonny Lynch (Wallace High), Owen McElhinney (Methody), Matt Milliken (Friends), Matthew Morris (Sullivan), Harry Morris (Sullivan), Ben Nelson (Wallace High), Tom Robson (Sullivan).