| 6.9°C Belfast

Hockey bosses call a halt to the action as virus worries escalate

 

Close

All hockey matches in Ireland, north and south, at every level, have been called off until March 29 at the earliest, after a meeting of the sport's national governing body in Dublin last night to discuss the impact of the coronavirus escalation. (stock photo)

All hockey matches in Ireland, north and south, at every level, have been called off until March 29 at the earliest, after a meeting of the sport's national governing body in Dublin last night to discuss the impact of the coronavirus escalation. (stock photo)

©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

All hockey matches in Ireland, north and south, at every level, have been called off until March 29 at the earliest, after a meeting of the sport's national governing body in Dublin last night to discuss the impact of the coronavirus escalation. (stock photo)

All hockey matches in Ireland, north and south, at every level, have been called off until March 29 at the earliest, after a meeting of the sport's national governing body in Dublin last night to discuss the impact of the coronavirus escalation.

In addition, the European Hockey Federation has postponed the EHL Championship in which Pegasus were to have represented Ireland in Amsterdam at Easter.

There are hopes that the event might be staged at a later date but there remain doubts over the prospect of Lisnagarvey being able to host the corresponding men's event in Hillsborough at the end of May.

A Hockey Ireland statement said last night: "We are suspending all hockey activity with immediate effect until March 29 and directing all schools and clubs to do the same.

"All hockey activity including training and education across clubs and schools must now cease.

"We understand that this decision is disappointing to all hockey players, coaches, volunteers and supporters, but in light of the circumstances, Hockey Ireland believes this is in our members' best interests."

The governing body has also confirmed that all its employees will, for the time being, be working from home and the Hockey Ireland office will be closed until the end of the month at the earliest.

The decision has cast doubts over the All Ireland Club Championship which was due to be held in Banbridge over the first weekend in May.

With the likelihood of a fixture backlog now, even if the schedule was to recommence in April, it's unlikely that the programme would be finished in time for the play-offs to take place as planned.

However there are, at present, no plans to cancel the Ireland women's warm weather training camp in South Africa next week in which the national team will play eight internationals in the build-up to the Tokyo Olympics.

Ireland's men are due to host a three-nations tournament, also involving the United States and France in Dublin in June and that event is also in doubt due to growing concerns over the impact of the virus.

Belfast Telegraph