Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland hockey club banned after refusing to play games on a Sunday

Kilkeel Hockey Club's decision to stick to its principles over never playing on a Sunday has cost it a ban from all Hockey Ireland cup competitions next season. (stock photo)
Kilkeel Hockey Club's decision to stick to its principles over never playing on a Sunday has cost it a ban from all Hockey Ireland cup competitions next season. (stock photo)

By Graham Hamilton

Kilkeel Hockey Club's decision to stick to its principles over never playing on a Sunday has cost it a ban from all Hockey Ireland cup competitions next season.

The Mourne club withdrew from the Irish Senior Cup less than 48 hours before their quarter-final against Dublin giants Glenanne as the tie was scheduled for last Sunday.

And the outcome is that the governing body, although understanding of the club's predicament, dealt with the issue as per the rules, although they didn't apply any fine.

The ban takes in all national cup competitions for the entire club, not just the first team.

It means the first team won't be able to enter the Irish Senior Cup, the second XI can't participate in the Irish Junior Cup, and the women's team will be excluded from the Irish Challenge Cup.

The Kilkeel men had previously withdrawn from the EY Irish Hockey League promotion play-offs due to Sunday games being scheduled.

Although the ban may seem harsh, taking into consideration the religious beliefs of members within the club, precedents have already been set, leaving the governing body with little choice but to follow the rules set down.

The issue has been a talking point since the Mournemen made the decision to pull out of the cup following an Extraordinary General Meeting last Friday.

Some felt playing on the Sabbath impinged on the Christian viewpoint, while others felt the club were aware that at least one round of the competition, as well as the final, would be scheduled for Sundays and perhaps shouldn't have entered.

There's an outside chance that Kilkeel could find themselves in a similar situation on two fronts later in the season.

Firstly, they take on Banbridge in the Anderson Cup second round next midweek and, if they were to progress after the home and away legs, would be faced with a semi-final on St Patrick's Day - which falls on a Sunday this year.

Secondly, if they were to qualify for the final of the Irish Hockey League's second tier competition, it would almost certainly be on a Sunday.

Whether they can reach either stage remains to be seen, but adds to the uncertainty.

A club meeting has been called for this evening when they are likely to discuss appealing the decision.

Belfast Telegraph

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