Cork hockey clubs were surprised at decision to cut rest of the season

Cork hockey clubs were surprised at decision to cut rest of the season
Cork Harlequins ladies senior hockey team's Irish internationals last May: Caoimhe Perdue, Michelle Barry, Yvonne O'Byrne, Nikki Barry and Sarah Murphy. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

LAST week, in a move that surprised many, Hockey Ireland announced that the 2019/20 season is now finished.

This means that there will be no action on pitches until September at the earliest, bar some possible international games during the summer, leaving club players in particular in limbo.

The statement said: “Hockey Ireland continues to follow the advice of the Government and Sport Ireland and has noted recent Government announcements that further measures are being introduced to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“The Hockey Ireland board, after further consultation with its branches, has decided the following in the interest of the health and safety of the hockey community and all the people on the island of Ireland:

“In line with government advice all hockey activity remains suspended.

“In order to provide clarity and to assist with immediate and longer-term planning, Hockey Ireland is announcing that the 2019/20 hockey season for all league, cup and all other domestic hockey competitions in Ireland are deemed to have finished.

“The consequences of this decision will be looked at by a Hockey Ireland Competitions Working group. The Competitions Working Group will consist of representatives from the Hockey Ireland Board, the Competitions Committee, and representatives from each of the four branches.

“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.

“The final decisions on the details for the conclusion of 2019/2020 season will be published no later than April 12,” it concluded.

The outcome on the conclusion of the season has ramifications from club games in Munster and up to the EY Irish Hockey League and many clubs feel the decision was made in haste.

In the Munster leagues for some sides it just means an earlier end to their season. They are sitting mid-table and were neither going to win their respective leagues or relegated.

But for some there is much more at stake. Take UCC's women's senior side for instance. They are currently top of the table and are six points clear of Church of Ireland.

The college side have three games to go and the easy option would be to award them the title. But Church of Ireland would rightly object to that. They have a game less played and if they had won that then UCC's lead would have been down to three points.

And they were due to meet later this month in the league they could rightly argue if they won that they would be level with the college side.

You have to go back a long time for CoI's last win in this particular league, more than 30 years, so they certainly have every right to be annoyed at the possibility of being denied a chance to win the title.

At the other end of the table the decision on who is relegated is just as complicated. There is just one point between Limerick and Waterford so deciding which one goes down is a decision that is virtually impossible to make.

However who would be promoted from Division Two would seem a little easier. With a rule in Munster that you can only have one team from a particular club in the top league then logically looking at the table Blackrock are the team that should go up.

This rule is complicated as if you have a team in Division One of the EY Irish Hockey League then you also can't have a side in the top flight in Munster.

This rule means that Harlequins, who have won Division Two for the last three years have been automatically ruled out of promotion. They were on course to make it four in-a-row this season.

Going down the tables in Division Three, Belvedere, Ashton and Harlequins were all in the running to win that league, with Church of Ireland most likely to go down.

In Division Four Crescent and UCC were in the title race, with any of UCC B, Cork Wanderers or Waterford being relegated. Division Five would see Limerick go up and Belvedere relegated and Division Six Clonmel would have been champions.

In the men's Munster leagues the most likely winners of Division One and Two would have been Church of Ireland A and B.

In Division One they are six clear, but that would be reduced to three, if Bandon had won their game in hand.

That said Church of Ireland haven't lost a game in this league all season it would have been a shock to see them not win the title.

At the other end it would have been between Catholic Institute or Ashton to go down.

Divison Two would have gone the way of Church of Ireland B, with Bandon B not too far behind.

However the big losers here are Midleton. With the rule about only one side in the top flight from each club applying then Midleton were in the running for promotion, which now looks unlikely.

But Harlequins B and Limerick will gain as they were both in the running for relegation.

In Division Three the league title would have been between Church of Ireland C and Midleton B, with the former on target to make it a treble of league titles for the Garryduff club.

In cup competitions it wouldn't take a huge amout of games to find winners.

In the men's Munster Senior Cup UCC were due to face Church of Ireland in the final, with the latter having already won the Peard Cup.

The Charity Cup, played on a round robin basis, saw Bandon top of the pile when play stopped.

The Junior Cup was down to Bandon B and UCC B and in the Barber Cup Church of Ireland C were due to face Waterford B in the final.

In the Cork Cup Church of Ireland B were through to the final, awaiting the winners of the Midleton v UCC B semi-final.

Again here Church of Ireland were on for potential treble cup success.

In women's cups Bandon and UCC were due to meet in the Munster Senior Cup final.

Bandon were on top in the Examiner Cup, played on a round robin basis.

Church of Ireland and Harlequins were into the Division Two final, whilst in Division Three it was down to Belvedere v Tipperary.

Division Four had a number of games to play on one side of the draw, with UCC into the final on the other side.

Division Five was also at final stage, with Limerick due to play UCC and in Division Six Clonmel and Tipperary were into the final.

So whatever about the leagues the cup competitions could easily be finished and maybe there will be a slight change of mind on the initial decision made to declare the season over.

Time will tell but a lot of sides are anxious to finish out the leagues and cups.

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