Banbridge Hockey Club are ‘disappointed’ that they will not be able to defend the Kirk and Anderson Cups.
After claiming victory in both competitions last season, a vote at last week’s Ulster Hockey AGM confirmed the IHL-bound club will not be permitted to play in next season’s cup competitions.
It brings to an end over a century of Ulster Hockey tradition, a move which has not occurred in the rest of Ireland after the island’s top clubs opted to move to a full-season Irish Hockey League.
“We are disappointed,” said Bann President Sheree Totton.
“We knew that the cup competitions were for teams competing in Ulster but, at the same time, the other provinces, I believe I’m right in saying, have allowed their clubs to continue playing in the cup competitions.
“We’re disappointed that Ulster didn’t follow the other organisations but we accept it.
“We are the holders of both trophies and would have liked to have the opportunity to defend them but we understand the province’s stance.
“We knew the risks when we joined the IHL.”
The move means that Banbridge men’s first team now face a season containing just over 20 matches, 18 in the IHL and the rest depending on Irish Senior Cup progression.
Sheree, however, isn’t expecting match-day income to suffer a huge hit.
“We don’t think that it will have such a big detrimental effect,” she said.
Banbridge have a big tradition in both Cups, particularly the Anderson Cup
It was donated to the Ulster Hockey Union by Mr T N Anderson as a memorial for his brother Captain J G Anderson MC, who was a prominent member of the club.
Bann won the first ever tournament in the 1919/20 season and have lifted it over 20 times since.
The final of the competition has also been traditionally held at Banbridge’s Havelock Park, where Sheree, also a member of the Ulster Hockey Competitions Committee says it is likely to stay.
“My understanding is that it is a stipulation of the cup that the final is held at Banbridge,” she said.
Ulster Hockey said simply that the new committee will meet over summer to discuss the rules.
Meanwhile, there are rumours that Banbridge could also host a women’s competition to line up with the Anderson Cup.