Ulster Senior League (men's hockey)

The Ulster Senior League is a league competition for the first teams of men's hockey clubs affiliated to the Ulster Hockey Union of Hockey Ireland.


At a Special General Meeting of the Union held on 15 October 1897 in the Royal Avenue Hotel, Belfast, the clubs present resolved to form the Ulster Senior League.[1] Eight teams participated in the first season: Antrim, Ards, Cliftonville, King's (Liverpool) Regiment, Lisburn, North Down, North Staffordshire Regiment and Ulster[2]

Current composition of the Senior League

In 2020–21, there are 12 clubs in the Ulster Senior League season.[3]

Premier League
Belfast Harlequins
Newry Olympic
North Down
Queen's University
South Antrim

Early format

From its formation until 1953 entry to the Ulster Senior League could only be obtained by application to the Ulster Hockey Union. The applicant club would then have to be successful in a vote amongst the Senior Clubs. The size of the Senior League varied between seven competing clubs in the 1900s to as many as eighteen in the late 1920s. With eighteen teams it was necessary to play the league in two pools with the winners of the pools playing a Test Match to decide that year's league champions.

1953 reorganisation

In 1953 the eight team Senior League amalgamated with the eight team Qualifying League. There was no realignment of teams at this time, the only difference was the renaming of the two leagues as Senior League Section A (the old Senior League) and Senior League Section B (the old Qualifying League). Teams did not change Sections during this period and no teams were promoted or relegated to or from the Senior League.

At the end of each league season the winner of Section A played the winner of Section B in a Test Match to decide the winner of the Keightley Cup. The loser of the Test Match was awarded the Ireland's Saturday Night Cup. During this period the trophy was always won by the Section A winner.

Senior League 1953–54 to 1956–57
Section A Section B
AntrimAlbert Foundry
Belfast YMCAEast Antrim
North DownNewry Olympic
Queen's UniversitySouth Antrim

1958 reorganisation

Prior to the start of the 1957–58 season, the Council of the Ulster Branch made a controversial decision. Portrush, who had finished bottom of Section A in 1956–57 were demoted to Section B. Parkview, the winners of Section B in 1956–57, were moved to Section A. This signalled the intention of the League to move to Promotion and Relegation. A report was commissioned by the Council of the Ulster Branch to establish new league structures.

The report and debate lead to the league reorganising to allow for promotion and relegation prior to the start of the 1958–59 season. There were eight teams in each league section. A Qualifying League in two sections provided two lower rungs for the league, with a further Intermediate section below that. The formation of the sections again proved controversial, as some clubs were not placed in the section that their previous seasons standing would merit. In particular, it was reported that Saintfield (Intermediate A) had finished above four clubs in 1957–58 that were placed in Qualifying B.

Ulster Leagues after re-alignment in 1958–59
Senior League Qualifying A Qualifying B Intermediate A
AntrimAlbert FoundryBallymenaCookstown
Belfast YMCAEast AntrimKing's ScholarsDunmurry
CliftonvilleHolywoodLisburn OBHollerith
ParkviewNewry OlympicOld BleachMontalto
PortrushNorth DownRUCPortadown
Queen's UniversitySouth AntrimShorts & HarlandSaintfield

1969 reorganisation

At the end of the 1968–69 season the Senior League expanded from eight to ten teams and was renamed as Senior League Section 1. The remaining six Qualifying League 'A' were joined by the top four teams from Qualifying 'B' to form a ten team league known as Senior League Section 2. All remaining club first teams were entered in the Intermediate League. In season 1975–76 Section 2 was increased to 12 teams.

Membership of the two Senior League Sections at the start of the 1969–70 season was as follows

Senior League prior to 1969–70
Section 1 Section 2
Belfast YMCACrossgar
CliftonvilleEast Antrim
Friends School OBNewry
InstoniansNorth Down
Queen's UniversitySaintfield

2001 reorganisation

In 2001 Section 1 was reduced to eight teams, and was renamed as the Premier League. Section 2 remained with twelve teams and was renamed as Senior 1. The Intermediate League was renamed as Senior 2, with all remaining teams placed in this section.

The top three teams in the Premier League at the end of the season qualify for the All-Ireland Club Championship.

2015 reorganisation

The top four teams departed for the new Irish Hockey League (IHL) and the league reduced from three divisions to two. The League champions now qualify for the Provincial Play-offs where they compete for promotion to the IHL.

2017 reorganisation

Four teams dropped into junior hockey and the two divisions were amalgamated into a single Premier League of fourteen teams.[4]

2018 reorganisation

The Intermediate League was revived.


  • Winners of the Premier League are awarded the Keightley Cup.
  • Winners of Senior 1 were awarded the Ireland's Saturday Night Cup.
  • Winners of Senior 2 were awarded the Cliftonville Cup.[5]

League winners and relegated clubs

2018–19 on

Year Relegated from Irish Hockey League Premier League winner Also promoted from Premier League Premier League relegated Intermediate League promoted
2019–20n/a1Cookstown[6] 1n/a1Bangor
Belfast Harlequins
Belfast Harlequins


  • 1 – 2019–20 Season abandoned due to coronavirus pandemic. Cookstown declared Premier League champions using percentage equalisation method. No promotion to or relegation from Irish Hockey League. Relegation to and promotion from Intermediate League based on percentage equalisation method.


Year Relegated from Irish Hockey League Premier League winner Also promoted from Premier League Premier League relegated


  • 1 – 2017–18 Cliftonville relegated to revived Intermediate League (and changed name to CIYMS). Other teams joining Intermediate League were Armagh, Ballymena, Ballynahinch, Down, Parkview, PSNI, Portrush and Saintfield.

2015–16 to 2016–17

Year Relegated from Irish Hockey League Premier League winner Also promoted from Premier League Premier League relegated Senior One winner
2016–17Instonians[8]Cookstown[9]1Annadale2Campbellians3South Antrim4
2015–16Annadale & CookstownInstonians[10]5n/aSouth AntrimCampbellians[11]


  • 1 – 2016–17 Cookstown promoted to Irish Hockey League after winning the Promotion/Relegation Play-off.
  • 2 – 2016–17 Annadale promoted to Irish Hockey League after winning the Provincial Play-offs.
  • 3 – 2016–17 Campbellians dropped into junior hockey.
  • 4 – 2016–17 Antrim, Bangor, Cliftonville and Queen's University promoted alongside South Antrim. Armagh, Ballynahinch and Portrush dropped into junior hockey.
  • 5 – 2015–16 Instonians promoted to Irish Hockey League after winning the Provincial Play-offs.

2010–11 to 2014–15

Year Premier League Winner Premier League Relegated Senior One Winner Senior One Relegated Senior Two Winner
2011–12CookstownNorth DownAntrimCliftonvilleBallynahinch
2010–11LisnagarveyBangorBelfast HarlequinsBallynahinchCampbellians
2005–06AnnadaleNorth DownKilkeelArmaghSouth Antrim
2004–05AnnadaleRaphoeNorth DownSouth AntrimArmagh


  • 1 – 2014–15 Banbridge along with Annadale, Cookstown and Lisnagarvey joined the Irish Hockey League for the 2015–16 season.
  • 2 – 2014–15 Mossley, North Down, Portadown, Raphoe and South Antrim promoted.
  • 3 – 2014–15 Armagh, Ballynahinch and Cliftonville promoted. (Ballymena, Down, Larne, Newcastle, Parkview and Saintfield were relegated to the Junior League.)
  • 4 – 2012–13 Cliftonville were also promoted.
  • 5 – 2008–09 Raphoe were not relegated due to increase in number of teams in premier league to ten.
  • 6 – 2008–09 North Down were also promoted to enable increase of premier league to ten teams.

2000–01 to 1969–70

Year Section 1 Winner Section 1 Relegated Section 2 Winner Section 2 Relegated Intermediate Winner
2000–01LisnagarveyNorth Down & RaphoeBangor1Larne, Parkview & PortrushArmagh
1998–99LisnagarveyBangorNorth DownR.U.C.Portrush
1997–98InstoniansHolywood '87BangorBallynahinchLarne & South Antrim2
1995–96Instonians[18]BangorCliftonvillePortrushNorth Down
1994–95Lisnagarvey[19]CliftonvilleBangorEast AntrimR.U.C.
1993–94Lisnagarvey[20]BangorRaphoeSouth AntrimParkview
1992–93Holywood '87Queen's UniversityBangorR.U.C.Portrush
1990–91LisnagarveyR.U.C.BangorNorth DownBallynahinch
1989–90LisnagarveyBangorNewryFriends School Old BoysNorth Down
1988–89BanbridgeCollegiansQueen's UniversityNorth DownWanderers
1984–85Belfast Y.M.C.A.CliftonvilleAnnadaleCollegiansDown
1983–84Belfast Y.M.C.A.AnnadaleR.U.C.ParkviewCollegians
1982–83CookstownQueen's UniversityAnnadalePortadownEast Antrim
1981–82Belfast Y.M.C.A.PortadownBangorDown & East AntrimNewry & Parkview
1980–81Lisnagarvey[21]AnnadalePortadownNewry & ParkviewCorinthians & Down
1979–80Belfast Y.M.C.A.RaphoeQueen's UniversityCollegians & DownNorth Down & Parkview
1978–79Belfast Y.M.C.A.4[22]BangorRaphoeNorth Down & ParkviewDown & South Antrim
1977–78LisnagarveyMossley5N.I.C.S.5Crossgar & StranmillisCollegians & Newry
1976–77LisnagarveyPortrushBangorCollegians & NewryRaphoe & Stranmillis
1975–76Cliftonville[23]Friends School Old BoysAnnadaleStranmillisPortadown
1974–75Instonians[24]ParkviewCookstownNo relegationN.I.C.S. & Newry
1973–74CliftonvilleQueen's UniversityBelfast Y.M.C.A.NewryEast Antrim
1972–73CliftonvilleCollegiansBanbridgeEast AntrimNewry
1970–71Belfast Y.M.C.A.ParkviewN.I.C.S.Annadale
1969–70LisnagarveyBanbridge & Mossley6Parkview6SaintfieldCollegians


  • 1 – 2000–01 Bangor won Section 2 but lost a Promotion Playoff
  • 2 – 1997–98 South Antrim were runners-up and gained promotion when Holywood '87 folded.
  • 3 – 1996–97 Promotion and relegation suspended.
  • 4 – 1978–79 Belfast YMCA won League after 3–1 victory in Test Match against Instonians.
  • 5 – 1977–78 Promotion and relegation between Section 1 and 2 suspended because of Ireland's participation in the Hockey World Cup in Argentina.
  • 6 – 1969–70 Promotion and relegation between Section 1 and 2 suspended.

1968–69 to 1957–58

Year Senior Winner Senior Relegated Qual. 'A' Winner Qual. 'A' Relegated Qual. 'B' Winner Qual. 'B' Relegated Inter. 'A' Winner
1968–69CliftonvilleF.S.O.B.North DownCollegians
1967–68CliftonvilleR.U.C.MossleyEast Antrim1CookstownShort & Harland
1966–67CliftonvilleBanbridgeR.U.C.PortadownEast AntrimBallymenaCookstown
1965–66LisnagarveyMossleyInstoniansLissara2F.S.O.B.HolywoodEast Antrim
1964–65Lisnagarvey3ParkviewMossleyNorth DownLissaraAlbert FoundryLisburn OB4
1962–63Lisnagarvey[25]ParkviewPortrushHolywoodInstoniansSouth AntrimKing's Scholars
1961–62BanbridgePortrushBangorDownOld BleachEast AntrimInstonians
1960–61Lisnagarvey[26]MossleyParkviewAlbert FoundryBangorShort & HarlandPortadown
1959–60Lisnagarvey[27]ParkviewCliftonvilleSouth AntrimMontaltoKing's ScholarsSaintfield
1958–59CliftonvilleMossleyEast AntrimRUCLisburn OBMontalto
1957–58North DownPortrush


  • 1 – 1967–68 Old Bleach(Qual. A) folded after this season. As a result, East Antrim were not relegated. In addition Holywood(Int. A) folded.
  • 2 – 1965–66 Lissara renamed as Crossgar at the end of this season.
  • 3 – 1964–65 Lisnagarvey won League after Test Match with Cliftonville
  • 4 – 1964–65 Lisburn Old Boys renamed as Friends School Old Boys at the end of this season.
  • 5 – 1963–64 Montalto withdrew from League during season. No relegation from Qualifying B.

1956–57 to formation

  • 1956–57
  • 1955–56 Belfast YMCA (Won Test Match against Parkview)
  • 1954–55 Lisnagarvey (Won Test Match against Parkview)
  • 1953–54 Lisnagarvey (Won Test Match against Down)
  • 1952–53 Lisnagarvey
  • 1951–52 Lisnagarvey
  • 1950–51 Lisnagarvey
  • 1949–50 Lisnagarvey (Won Test Match 1–0 v Parkview)[28]
  • 1948–49 Parkview (Won Test Match 2–1 after extra time v Antrim)[29]
  • 1947–48
  • 1946–47
  • 1945–46
  • 1944–45 Lisnagarvey
  • 1943–44
  • 1942–43
  • 1941–42
  • 1940–41
  • 1939–40
  • 1938–39 Lisnagarvey[30]
  • 1937–38 Lisnagarvey[31]
  • 1936–37 North Down[32]
  • 1935–36 North Down[33]
  • 1934–35 North Down[34]
  • 1933–34 Lisnagarvey (Won Test Match 3–1 v North Down)[35] (2 section Senior League)
  • 1932–33 North Down[36]
  • 1931–32 North Down[37]
  • 1930–31 Cliftonville[38]
  • 1929–30 Antrim[39]
  • 1928–29 Cliftonville[40]
  • 1927–28 Antrim[41]
  • 1926–27 Antrim[42]
  • 1925–26 Banbridge (Won Test Match 3–2 v Lisnagarvey)[43]
  • 1924–25 Lisnagarvey
  • 1923–24 East Antrim (Won Test Match 4–3 v Banbridge)[44]
  • 1922–23
  • 1921–22
  • 1920–21 Antrim (Won Test Match 3–1 v Banbridge)[45]
  • 1919–20
  • 1918–19 Not Played
  • 1917–18 Not Played
  • 1916–17 Not Played
  • 1915–16 Not Played
  • 1914–15 Not Played
  • 1913–14 Banbridge
  • 1912–13 Banbridge
  • 1911–12 Queen's University
  • 1910–11 Banbridge
  • 1909–10 Banbridge (after a Test Match)
  • 1908–09 Banbridge (after a Test Match)
  • 1907–08 Antrim
  • 1906–07 Cliftonville (after a Test Match)
  • 1905–06 Malone
  • 1904–05 Antrim (after a Test Match)
  • 1903–04 Banbridge
  • 1902–03 Antrim[46]
  • 1901–02 Banbridge[47]
  • 1900–01 Antrim[48]
  • 1899-00 North Down
  • 1898–99
  • 1897–98 Antrim[49]


  1. Belfast Newsletter 16/10/1897 Page 3
  2. Ireland's Saturday Night 4 December 1897
  3. Ulster Hockey
  4. Belfast Telegraph
  5. "Ulster Branch Rule Book Page 14/15" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on May 9, 2008. Retrieved 2007-07-01.
  6. https://ulsterhockey.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/UHU-Mens-Premier-League-2019.20-1.pdf] Ulster Hockey
  7. Ulster Hockey
  8. BBC
  9. Ulster Hockey
  10. Ulster Hockey
  11. Ulster Hockey
  12. Belfast Telegraph
  13. Ulster Hockey
  14. "One Down, Two to Go for Bann". 21 March 2013. Retrieved 28 March 2013.
  15. "American Chronicle (from Belfast Telegraph) report on Cookstown 2009–10 league win". Retrieved 2010-04-28.
  16. "Belfast Telegraph report on Cookstown 2008–09 league win". Retrieved 2009-03-13.
  17. "Belfast Newsletter report on Cookstown 2007–08 league win". Retrieved 2008-04-15.
  18. Belfast Newsletter. 12 April 1996. p. 36. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  19. Belfast Newsletter. 6 March 1995. p. 22. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. Belfast Newsletter. 10 March 1994. p. 34. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  21. Belfast Newsletter. 17 April 1981. p. 16. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  22. Belfast Newsletter. 11 May 1979. p. 18. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  23. Belfast Newsletter. 1 May 1976. p. 9. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  24. Belfast Newsletter. 16 April 1975. p. 17. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  25. Belfast Newsletter. 30 April 1963. p. 8. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  26. Belfast Newsletter. 19 April 1961. p. 11. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  27. Belfast Newsletter. 12 May 1960. p. 9. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  28. Northern Whig & Belfast Post. 24 April 1950. p. 5. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  29. Northern Whig & Belfast Post. 21 April 1949. p. 2. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  30. Belfast Newsletter. 25 April 1939. p. 3. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  31. Northern Whig & Belfast Post. 21 April 1938. p. 10. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  32. Belfast Newsletter. 29 March 1937. p. 9. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  33. Belfast Newsletter. 13 April 1936. p. 4. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  34. Belfast Newsletter. 9 April 1935. p. 2. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  35. Belfast Newsletter. 30 April 1934. p. 3. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  36. Belfast Newsletter. 21 April 1933. p. 13. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  37. Belfast Newsletter. 18 April 1932. p. 10. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  38. Northern Whig & Belfast Post. 8 April 1931. p. 3. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  39. Belfast Newsletter. 24 April 1930. p. 12. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  40. Belfast Newsletter. 23 April 1929. p. 12. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  41. Belfast Newsletter. 23 April 1928. p. 2. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  42. Belfast Newsletter. 29 April 1927. p. 5. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  43. Belfast Newsletter. 12 May 1926. p. 2. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  44. Belfast Newsletter. 2 May 1924. p. 2. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  45. Belfast Newsletter. 14 May 1921. p. 2. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  46. Belfast Newsletter. 28 April 1903. p. 3. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  47. Belfast Newsletter. 28 April 1902. p. 5. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  48. Belfast Newsletter. 19 April 1901. p. 3. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  49. Belfast Newsletter. 30 March 1898. p. 3. Missing or empty |title= (help)

Information gathered from Belfast Newsletter and Ireland Saturday Night