Pembroke and Catholic Institute form new-look Irish top two

Ireland will have a new look set of representatives in European women’s club competition with Pembroke and Catholic Institute confirmed as their clubs for the 2022/23 season.

The pair have been the top two in all competitions this season with Pembroke having the edge in the regular EY Hockey League season and winning national laurels in the EY Champions Trophy last Sunday. 

Pembroke produced a perfect all-round team performance to add that latter title for the first time with a 4-1 final success.

It was a win built around an outstanding first 10 minutes in which Sinead Loughran and Ali Griffin both netted and while Naomi Carroll got one back with a late goal of the season contender, Eanna Horan made it 3-1 at half-time before Martha McCready sealed the deal.

“It feels pretty incredible. It is an amazing journey we have been on for the last couple of years,” said Pembroke captain Gillian Pinder. 

She said it was quite the journey for Pembroke who were competing in their first national final of any description in eight years. 

With the EY Hockey League title last month their first since 1975, they now have two in the bag and a potential treble in the pipeline when they meet Institute against next Saturday in the Irish Senior Cup final at Belfield.

“To take ourselves from flirting with relegation to mid-table and now into the top couple of teams, to be trophy winners is unbelievable and a dream come true for a few years of hard work.”

It will be the club’s women’s side third appearance in Europe. They previously played in the 2008 Cup Winners Cup, qualifying as runners-up to Pegasus, while they contested the 2015 EuroHockey Club Trophy in Minsk when they stepped in as replacement after Railway Union’s withdrawal.

Catholic Institute, meanwhile, will have their first ever European club campaign. The Limerick club finished second in the regular league season in Ireland in what was their first full season in the top tier and have only contested top tier Irish finals twice before this season back in 1979 and 1984.

“When we reflect on the season, we are delighted. A final of the Champions Trophy and a final of the cup, it is a fantastic achievement for our little club in Limerick,” said the club’s Róisín Upton.

On the men’s side, Lisnagarvey won back the EY Champions Trophy having won the competition back in 2016. They also won the regular season title on goal difference ahead of Three Rock Rovers.

The won the big title with a shoot-out win over Banbridge, 3-1 at Havelock Park, after normal time had ended 2-2. It means they will take the top seeding while Bann will be the second Irish seed.