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'Leagues are a mess': Bangor coach gives damning assessment of Ulster Hockey divisions


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Cookstown had a 14-0 win over Ballynahinch on Saturday.

Cookstown had a 14-0 win over Ballynahinch on Saturday.

Cookstown had a 14-0 win over Ballynahinch on Saturday.

Bangor coach Scott Parker believes Ulster men's hockey is in poor health and pointed to the growing number of mismatches across the top two leagues, which was again evident on Saturday.

Cookstown put 14 goals past Ballynahinch, who have now conceded 117 and scored only eight in 16 matches, while Kilkeel thrashed Portadown 9-2.

In the second-tier Intermediate League, there have been numerous double-figure scores including 18 and 19 posted by Belfast Harlequins and Civil Service, who were relegated from the Premier Division last season.

Bangor, who have three points out of a possible 39, would gladly have swapped places with either of those clubs and, indeed, had a request to drop down a league turned down as the authorities did not want to set a precedent.

"We made the request partly to help us rebuild in a league where we felt our very young squad could cope, having lost 16 of our previous season's 17-man squad," Parker explained.

"We also felt such a step would perhaps have made both leagues more balanced and competitive but this was turned down and we had to accept it."

Parker believes the introduction of the full-season Irish Hockey League has had a negative impact on the game in Ulster with the reduction in the player pool at domestic level.

He added: "One major concern that was often mentioned in the consultation meetings in Ulster before the IHL came about was the detrimental effect it would have on provincial hockey and I think this has 100% been proven correct.

"I am all for elite teams performing at an elite level and it's great to see the Ulster teams do well in the IHL.

"However, senior hockey within Ulster has suffered and the leagues are a mess and unbalanced - just look at the scores in both leagues as evidence."

Meanwhile, a late double strike from Johnny McKee helped Banbridge defeat YMCA 3-1 on Saturday.

Lisnagarvey remain in pole position, five points ahead of Bann and Monkstown with one and two games in hand respectively over their rivals.

Annadale are now 10 points adrift at the bottom after losing 6-2 to nearest rivals Pembroke.

Results: EYIHL: Annadale 2 Pembroke 6; Banbridge 3 YMCA 1; Corinthian 1 Three Rock 2; UCD 4 Glenanne 6; Monkstown v L'garvey abandoned. Ulster Premier: Cookstown 14 B'hinch 0; Kilkeel 9 Portadown 2; Mossley 7 Queen's 2; North Down 1 South Antrim 4; Sussex Regiment Cup: Antrim 8 Armagh 1; Belfast H'quins 1 Civil Service 2.

Belfast Telegraph