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How Ireland could benefit from Pro League suspension

 

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Katie Mullan

Katie Mullan

�INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Katie Mullan

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) have suspended this year's Pro League due to the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, providing a boost for Ireland's women.

With the competition for elite nations roughly only a third of the way through its course, the FIH have decided to extend the event until June 2021 rather than cancel it altogether.

As a consequence, the next Pro League will now not start until September 2021 and will run until June 2022, giving Ireland's closest rivals less chance of catching captain Katie Mullan and her team.

Ireland were unable to secure entry into the elite league due largely to the fact they did not have facilities to meet the FIH criteria when the application process began.

However, three lower-ranked women's nations, namely China, the United States and Belgium, are competing in the event which is now in its second year.

Now, though, those teams are unlikely to be able to overhaul Ireland - who are eighth on the global list - with the extension of this year's event.

World rankings are important because they form the basis of seedings for major tournaments and qualifiers like Olympic Games and World Cups.

Ireland's men are unaffected by the situation as the men's Pro League contains the top nine ranked nations while they are currently listed at 13th.

Both Ireland teams are however eligible for next year's Continental Cup which is effectively a second-tier Pro League with promotion and relegation from the top-flight part of the equation.

Belfast Telegraph