Hockey Ireland postpone all games in club championships

Hockey Ireland postpone all games in club championships

Alice Browne, president of the Munster branch of Hockey Ireland, presents the women's Division One league trophy for 2019/2020 to UCC's captain Emma Cripps, and vice-captain Hilary Balding. All games across the country have now been postponed with the move to Level 3 of the Living with Covid-19 plan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Hockey Ireland has announced the postponement of all hockey games, except for the Irish senior men's and women's teams.

They issued the following statement on the matter:

"On Wednesday, October 14, the Irish government announced the removal of the exemption for senior club championship to be played in Level 3 of the Living with Covid-19 plan.

"Following this change, the Board of Hockey Ireland has decided to postpone all hockey competition on an all-Ireland basis until further notice. Training can proceed subject to Hockey Ireland protocols and restrictions and any restrictions that may apply locally.

"This also means that the interprovincial competitions scheduled for the end of October are postponed. Hockey Ireland recognises the time and energy the Interprovincial Working Group and the provincial teams have put into the preparations for these games. Suitable dates for the running of the competitions will be considered.

"Elite hockey activity can proceed, and this applies to the Irish senior men and Irish senior women’s teams only.

"Hockey Ireland would like to acknowledge the work of the clubs that has gone into hosting games over the last few weeks. 

"The support of volunteers to follow the protocols and keep our players safe has been phenomenal. We must endeavour to keep club hockey activity going whilst we continue to observe Covid-19 guidelines and hopefully, we can resume competition soon."

The announcement comes following a refusal of some club teams in Cork to fulfil fixtures over health concerns about travelling outside the county after Dublin went to Level 3 lockdown before the rest of the country and the rising numbers of Covid cases in Northern Ireland.

Hockey Ireland, this week, issued the clubs, Harlequins, Church of Ireland, and UCC women's sides with suspended sanctions, but if they failed to fulfil games in the coming weeks they would be activated.

Hockey Ireland said it was impossible to run a national league programme if clubs refuse to travel and that the Cork clubs had agreed to participate in the competition.

However, in an article in the Irish Times, Minister Jack Chambers said: "The return to sport expert group has consistently emphasised to national governing bodies and local sports partnerships that the return to training and competition should be on an opt-in basis."

This would now question as to whether Hockey Ireland was right to impose the suspended sanctions on the clubs earlier this week.

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