Hockey cancellation a blow to Munster clubs Church of Ireland and Harlequins

Hockey cancellation a blow to Munster clubs Church of Ireland and Harlequins

John Jermyn, Church of Ireland breaking between Bandon players Calum Crowley and Fionn O’Leary in the Peard Cup final at Garryduff, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

THE Irish Hockey Association have officially cancelled the rest of the season, which could have a huge impact on Munster clubs Church of Ireland and Harlequins’ senior men’s sides.

Both teams are in a strong position to qualify for the top flight of the Irish Hockey League.

However because of the Covid-19 crisis they now won’t get the chance to complete their remains matches.

While the association’s decision is understandable given the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak, it would be hugely frustrating for both if the season is cancelled and they had to start from scratch against next Autumn.

Harlequins coach, Stephen Dale, said: “I fully understand that we can’t play now and people’s health and well-being is far more important. But with the Olympic Games postponed it could potentially give us the chance to play in June to sort this out.

“The other alternative would be to come back a few weeks early at the start of September and resolve it then, but we will just have to wait and see,” concluded Stephen.

Denis Pritchard, coach of Church of Ireland agreed with his counterpart.

He believes that ideally the campaign would be finished before a new one starts, but he also put forward another solution.

“There are six teams that could potentially make the play-offs for IHL qualification. Why don’t they let all six, if they want to, join the league next season and split it into two groups of eight?

“You have crossover games at the end of the season to decide who wins the league and who is relegated. That would be the best solution, but the worst is that the season is just written off. We have only lost one game all season and drew another so it would be unfair to just write it off and a lot of hard work by our players and other clubs would just go to waste.

“We will have to wait and see but hopefully they will come to a solution that is fair to the clubs,” said Denis.

The IHA explained: “The Competitions Working Group’s proposals, addressing the postponement or cancellation of fixtures, the final league standings, promotion and relegation, and possible European spots for the 2020/21 season will then go to the Hockey Ireland Board for consideration and approval.”

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