WITH Level 3 restrictions announced this week the Munster Branch of Hockey Ireland have informed clubs that all games, bar Division One are now postponed until further notice.
Meanwhile Harlequins men are not travelling to Dublin for their Irish Senior Hockey game against Railway Union on Saturday.
The club contacted Hockey Ireland regarding the matter and voiced their concerns at travelling in the current climate.
Richard Gash, chairman of the Harlequins Mens Hockey Club, said:
“The rising number of Covid-19 cases across the country and the move to Level 3 in all counties led us as a team to collectively decide not to make the trip to Dublin for the Irish Senior Cup match against Railway Union.
“It was a difficult decision for us and we gave it careful consideration, but we are all mindful that we need to minimise the risk to our members and their families.
“We feel the decision not to travel is justifiable and the correct course of action given the seriousness of the issue as highlighted by the public health officials last weekend.
“We’ve been in touch with Hockey Ireland to relay our deep concerns and advise them that we will not be travelling.
“While this may mean we forfeit the match, we are given some comfort in the fact the Government’s Return to Sport Expert Group has told all sports, including Hockey Ireland, that competition should be on an opt-in basis and that athletes should not be penalised if they wish to opt-out of activity.
“We are hopeful that Hockey Ireland will be empathetic and understanding given the difficult situation we all find ourselves in,” concluded Richard.
Unfortunately for Harlequins the most likely scenario now is they Hockey Ireland will rule they have forfeited the game and throw them out of the competition.
Whilst this is not what they want, they reluctantly will probably accept this, but it is the other sanctions that they are concerned about.
Raising all these concerns with Hockey Ireland in an email they got a reply which stated: “In line with the guidance received, the Cup Competitions Cmte has decided that the ISC match involving Cork Harlequins Men’s 1stXI this weekend, v. Railway Union, should proceed as scheduled. Failure to fulfil this fixture will, as per Rule 13.1, result in Cork Harlequins forfeiting the match.
“As to any penalty that may be imposed for a failure to fulfil a fixture the Cup Competitions Cmte would have to meet to decide on any appropriate penalty (see 13.2). If a penalty were to be imposed Cork Harlequins would have the right to appeal in accordance with Hockey Ireland Bye Laws.”
Rule 13.2 states that: “A fine of up to €750 or Sterling equivalent and or a period of suspension may be imposed on Clubs withdrawing from Cup Competitions. Clubs will be asked to complete a report giving reasons for their withdrawal.”
Replying to this Harlequins said: “Thank you for your response. The email fails to make any reference to the guidance issued, on multiple occasions, to Hockey Ireland which clearly states that ‘The Return to Sport Expert Group has communicated to National Governing Bodies and Local Sports Partnerships that the return to training and competition should be on an opt-in basis, with participants taking personal responsibility to decide whether they are happy to return. It is important that athletes are not be penalised if they wish to opt-out of activity.’
“It is difficult, therefore, to understand how Hockey Ireland has arrived at this decision. Please clarify where Hockey Ireland have taken the guidance of Government on board in this instance.”
In reply Hockey Ireland said: “In response to the issue raised, Hockey Ireland is fully aware of the guidelines as issued by Sport Ireland as expressed in our Return to Play and Competition Protocol.
“The Competition Committee of Hockey Ireland deal with team competitions not individual athletes. It is the responsibility of clubs to manage the relationship with individual players.
“Cork Harlequins has the right to opt out and if that is your chosen path the Cup Competitions Committee will respect that decision. For orderly management of the competition, a decision to opt out of a competition cannot be without penalties as any such action, at the very least, would automatically result in the relevant competition proceeding without Cork Harlequins involvement. The Cup Competitions Committee is of the opinion that due process should be followed prior to any club opting out.”
Harlequins now await the decision from Hockey Ireland as to whether they are out of the competition or not but they have confirmed they are not travelling on Saturday.
Their women’s side have requested a postponement of their clash with Belfast Harlequins, saying they feel it is not safe to travel to the North at the moment.
Both Church of Ireland first teams are due to travel for games this weekend as well and are awaiting a final decision as to whether they will travel or not.
Irish Senior Cup men: Portrane v Church of Ireland.
Irish Senior Cup women: UCC v Monkstown, 1pm. Corinthian v Church of Ireland, 3pm.
EY Women’s Irish Hockey League: Belfast Harlequins v Cork Harlequins, 1pm. Catholic Institute v Muckross, 1pm.
Munster men’s Division One: Catholic Institute v Waterford, 3pm. UCC v Ashton, 3pm.
Munster women’s Division One: Bandon v Waterford. Limerick v Belvedere.