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Pegasus frustrated as McCay to sit out crunch clash after umpire error

 

Big loss: Shirley McCay is out of Pegasus’ semi-final battle
Big loss: Shirley McCay is out of Pegasus’ semi-final battle

By John Flack

Pegasus' chances of lifting the EY Irish Champions Trophy in Banbridge have been dealt a major blow as they will be without Shirley McCay for Saturday's semi-final with Cork Harlequins.

Ireland's most capped sportswoman has been hit with a controversial two-match ban after accumulating three yellow cards and, having sat out Saturday's game with Belfast Harlequins, she will complete the sanction against their Cork namesakes.

Pegasus feel aggrieved about the circumstances of the ban but have had an appeal against it turned down by Hockey Ireland.

The club have no issue with the ban itself but are baffled as to why it didn't come into force until 11 weeks after McCay received the third yellow card on January 26 in an Irish Senior Cup game.

However, the umpire failed to report the card within the stipulated 48-hour timeframe which delayed the disciplinary hearing.

There were nine IHL games following McCay's third yellow card during which the ban could have been served and now, due to the umpire's mistake, McCay and Pegasus must pay the penalty.

Hockey Ireland's Appeal Tribunal upheld the two-match suspension as they 'did not consider there were grounds for appeal because the late submission of the report did not constitute any breach of a rule or regulation', albeit it acknowledged the case highlighted a flaw in procedures.

That is of no consolation to the club, who now must do without the 278-times-capped McCay for the Cork game, with a place in Europe's top flight the prize for the winners of Sunday's Champions Trophy final with Loreto and UCD contesting the other semi.

Pegasus chairperson Michelle Rainey said: "We appreciate the accrual of three yellow cards evokes the need for disciplinary action but we did not appeal the sanction, merely the timing of it.

"We are disappointed by what is the apparent lack of appreciation in the correspondence that the timing of the suspension is to be served during a game that has much higher stakes than one during the earlier stages of the IHL simply because of inconsistency in current procedures."

So Pegasus are resigned to being without their most influential player against a Cork side that, ironically, won the Irish Cup semi-final last month when McCay was away at Irish training.

Pegasus captain Michelle Harvey said: "It's going to be even tougher without Shirley and while it's nice to have the fall back of knowing we're already in Europe, we would love to take part in the top-flight competition."

Meanwhile, Queen's have one final chance to join Pegs and Belfast Harlequins in the IHL next season as they prepare to take on Muckross for the last remaining spot on Sunday at Havelock Park.

The students fell short of succeeding at the first attempt when they lost to Catholic Institute on penalties in Sunday's IHL 2 final.

SATURDAY: EY Irish Champions Trophy semi-finals (Banbridge): Pegasus v Cork Harlequins (10.30am); Loreto v UCD (12.30pm)

SUNDAY: EY Champions Trophy final: Pegasus or Cork Harlequins v Loreto or UCD (3pm)

EY IHL Promotion/Relegation play-off (Banbridge): Muckross v Queen's (11.30am)

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