THE EY Irish Hockey League returns this weekend with three Cork clubs due to take part tomorrow, as well as Limerick side Catholic Institute.
All three Cork sides were due to travel to Dublin but have decided not to travel with the capital at Level 3 of the Covid regulations.
UCC were cleared to travel by the college but the team management, in consultation with the players, have made the decision not to go to Dublin.
However they are all now in the dark as to whether they will be deducted points or ultimately thrown out of the competition having taken this stance.
In a letter sent to all clubs by the Irish Hockey Association (IHA) in recent weeks it stated: “On behalf of Hockey Ireland, I would also like to acknowledge the assistance of the Return to Sports Expert Group coordinated by Sport Ireland in providing us and all the other Sports Governing bodies with the necessary guidance on the Covid-19 restrictions.
“The Expert Group clarified the status of competitions in case of a level 3 situation in the ROI.”
The advice given by Sport Ireland is: “In relation to competition, it is permissible for participants that fall under the professional/elite/inter-county sports/senior club championship banner to travel to pre-planned competition to maintain fixtures.
“The EYHL matches fall under the exemption as being a ‘senior club championship’. Regarding travelling to and from these fixtures, Hockey Ireland is following current Government advice that if the competitors are coming from outside a level 3 area to participate in senior national competition, that is permissible.
“The same principles apply for journeys out of a level 3 area. This letter could provide ‘proof’ to the authorities of the need for travel, but we are happy to provide specific letters if necessary. The Competition Committee will issue the usual Rules applying to the League, which will include addressing issues that may arise from the Covid-19 situation.
“The Hockey Ireland Covid-19 protocols apply and in particular following the ROI Government rules, games staged in a level 3 area should be played ‘behind closed doors’.”
Tomorrow Harlequins ladies were due to play Muckross; UCC ladies were taking on Trinity College and Church of Ireland ladies were away to Monkstown.
All three have opted not to travel and have informed the IHA of this decision. The other Munster side, Catholic Institute, are at home to UCD and the college team have opted to travel to Limerick to play the game.
However, the Cork clubs are now unclear on where they stand and are fearful they could be thrown out of the competition.
In response to this question, a spokesperson for the IHA said: “As far as I am aware the decision on whether a match can be rescheduled or whether a club will be deemed to forfeit will be made by the EYHL Competitions Committee and will be determined after a club has signalled a decision not to travel/play.
“However, I believe the committee is working on a policy at the moment which will be communicated to all clubs when finalised, rather than reviewing on a case by case basis.”
But for now the Cork clubs have to wait and see what will happen and are sticking with the decision not to travel to protect the health and safety of their players and management.