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Ulster Hockey braced for more sweeping changes as executive manager follows recent resignations

 

Key role: Banbridge’s Johnny McKee will be looking for goals in the double-headers this weekend
Key role: Banbridge’s Johnny McKee will be looking for goals in the double-headers this weekend

By Graham Hamilton

Ulster Hockey is set for another upheaval after the executive manager announced that she was stepping down and three resignations were handed in over the past few weeks.

It was back at the start of the 2016 season that the governing body here was rocked when the management board was dissolved after what was termed an irrevocable breakdown in trust.

And then in March 2017 came the news that executive manager Angela Platt was stepping down to take up the general manager's post at the Northern Cricket Union.

Platt was replaced by Jill Poots but 18 months into the role and she has expressed her desire to spend more time with her family.

Ulster chair Billy Pollock said: "This is unfortunate news and Jill's leadership, drive, commitment, enthusiasm and dedication will be missed."

Poots, though, will work her three months' notice which effectively takes her up to the end of the season.

But before the job advertisement and interview process can begin, the branch needs to review the role against the background of its planned transfer to being an incorporated company with charitable status.

And there's a possibility that the entire process could take up to the beginning of next season.

But the board will also have to deal with three recent resignations.

Last season's president Chris Harte has stepped down as chairman of the schoolboys' committee, as well as Paul Osborne from the same committee, as has Chris McCandless, chairman of the coaching committee.

Harte's loss comes at a time when the John Minnis Estate Agents Burney Cup is getting into full swing, and moves will have to be made swiftly to fill the post to ensure the continued smooth running of the schoolboy competitions.

Meanwhile, it's a double-header weekend at national level, with a full round of the EY Irish Hockey League on Saturday and then the Irish Senior Cup quarter-finals on Sunday.

Regarding the Cup competition, Banbridge and Lisnagarvey end up playing the teams that they faced last weekend in the IHL.

Bann drew 1-1 at Three Rock but this time have home advantage with a place in the semi-finals at stake, although their first priority is to chalk up a win at Dublin YMCA on Saturday to maintain their lofty position and enhance their chances of making the end-of-season play-offs.

Bann hosted Three Rock in the league at the start of the season and won a thriller 4-3 with striker Johnny McKee among the goals and playing a key role.

They would certainly take the same outcome this time.

Garvey won 3-2 at Pembroke last Saturday but this time host the Dubliners on the Sunday as they bid to reach the last four of the Cup, although they too will prioritise their IHL clash against Three Rock on the Saturday.

It's an important weekend for Cookstown too - they need something from their home game against Monkstown in the league on Saturday to ease relegation worries before they host Cork C of I in the Cup quarter-finals.

Annadale can do themselves, and Cookstown, a favour by beating bottom club C of I in Saturday's league clash, although they will need an improvement on last week's five-goal defeat.

The only non-IHL team involved in Sunday's Cup ties is Kilkeel, but they face a tough task against Glenanne in a game which has been switched to Newcastle's Donard Park.

There's just one Ulster Premier League game scheduled with Newry hosting Bangor, but two games have been brought forward to midweek, with North Down taking on Kilkeel this evening and Instonians facing Mossley tomorrow.

Sunday sees Civil Service and North Down meet in the Irish Hockey Trophy with a place in the decider at stake.

TONIGHT: Ulster Premier League: North Down v Kilkeel (8.30pm).

TOMORROW: Ulster Premier League: Instonians v Mossley (8pm).

SATURDAY: EY Irish Hockey League: Lisnagarvey v Three Rock Rovers (3pm; Dublin YMCA v Banbridge (2.15pm); Annadale v Cork C of I (2.30pm); Cookstown v Monkstown (2.30pm); Pembroke v Glenanne (2.30pm).

Ulster Premier League: Newry v Bangor (2.30pm).

Irish Junior Cup quarter-finals: Banbridge II v Three Rock II (2.30pm); Glenanne II v Lisnagarvey II (3pm); Monkstown II v Belfast Harlequins II (2pm); Dublin YMCA II v Instonians II (4pm).

Intermediate League: Armagh v Saintfield (1pm); Ballynahinch v Parkview (4pm); CI v Portrush (2.30pm); PSNI v Ballymena (2.30pm).

SUNDAY: Irish Senior Cup quarter-finals: Banbridge v Three Rock (2.30pm); Cookstown v Cork C of I (1pm); Kilkeel v Glenanne (1pm); Lisnagarvey v Pembroke Wanderers (3pm).

Irish Hockey Trophy semi-finals: Civil Service v North Down (3.30pm); Rathgar v Waterford (1pm).

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