There is no lack of excitement when it comes to describing hockey in Ireland this year. As we learned from National Team Member Serena Barr, this year is the first year the women’s national team has qualified for the Olympics. The club league has a lot of international talent, and the level of the leagues are growing each year.
What else do you need to know before embarking on global hockey experiences to Ireland? See below for more information, and login here to see current openings in Ireland’s club league.
According to Serena Barr, the country’s standard style of play is tactful: “While other countries may be known to be more physical, Ireland would be more defensive. There is more build from the back and then go forward. Build & possession, then picking and choosing when to attack.”
While indoor hockey is available, it is not uncommon to play outdoor all year long in the Irish weather. It’s one of the few countries who rough-it playing through the cold.
Hockey Ireland, founded in 2000, is the national governing body over all hockey regions and teams in Ireland. According to Hockey Ireland, there are roughly “168 clubs and 280 schools” in the nation.
What is the club structure?
The Ireland Hockey League consists of a larger national “super league” and 4 other leagues divided by region. The overarching “super league” is called the EY League. From there, the leagues are represented by province: Connacht, Ulster, Leinster, and Munster. Each league plays teams from their region, and move into interprovincials tournaments. The top two teams from the provinces each year will be moved up to the EY League. See below for additional details:
When is club in season?
- Preseason dates: Vary, some teams begin mid-July with a six-week pre-season program while some begin mid-August with as little as a two week pre-season.
- Season dates: Runs from September to the beginning of April with a two week break over Christmas.
Typically, one Saturday game a weekend with occasional “double headers” where you have two games a weekend due to the international hockey schedule.
- Post season dates: Falls in mid-April or early May. Top teams enter into playoffs, National teams kick into gear, and the remaining teams enter a postseason where most athletes is to continue training and conditioning on their own.
How frequent are trainings?
- Typically there are two trainings a week in the evenings. Some programs will begin with fitness and running. Most programs will have strength and conditioning 2-3 times a week.
- Some universities have strength and conditioning, but not all teams do this
What is the interprovincial tournament?
- A weekend-long round robin tournament played between the different Ireland provinces. This tournament is played in multiple age groups – senior, junior, U21, U18 and U16.
- The interpro’s are a talent ID and selection mechanism for Ireland’s eight international squads. Therefore, it attracts the Ireland’s top players, and there is a pretty good audience at the games, including the national coach. Based off the performance, the players are asked by the national coach to attend a trial.
- There is great pride and rivalry amongst the competing provincial teams that has a long and proud history attached. It is claimed to be the oldest hockey tournament in the world, with their roots stretching back well into the 19th Century.
What is an overview of the National Team?
- The Men’s National Team is referred to as The Green Machine.
- The Women’s National Team is referred to as The Green Army..
- The men’s team are ranked around 12 and in 2016 was their first time going to the Olympics in 100 years. The women’s team is ranked 8th and going to the Olympics in 2020 for the first time
- For regular season, some of the national team players play on Irish clubs, and some travel abroad to play in other regions like Holland, Germany, Spain, Australia, and more.