| 8.3°C Belfast

Irish Hockey Leagues declared null and void by governing body

 

Close

Big relief: Belfast Harlequins and Linzi Hamilton will stay in top flight

Big relief: Belfast Harlequins and Linzi Hamilton will stay in top flight

Big relief: Belfast Harlequins and Linzi Hamilton will stay in top flight

This season's men's and women's EY Irish Hockey Leagues have been declared null and void by the sport's governing body which will signal relief in some quarters and disappointment in others.

Hockey Ireland yesterday announced their strategy to resolve the various issues after declaring the current season 'finished' on March 26 due to Covid-19.

The biggest talking point will centre around the call to void the all-island top-flight competition.

According to Hockey Ireland's statement, this was "due to the fact that there were too many games left to play to determine a fair final ranking by mathematical or other method".

Lisnagarvey are unlikely to be happy at this decision as they were five points clear at the top of the table with two games in hand and seven matches left.

At the other end, Annadale, who were 11 points adrift at the bottom, now have a reprieve from likely automatic relegation.

In the women's IHL, Belfast Harlequins, who were five points in arrears at the foot of the standings with four games to go, will also remain in the top-flight.

Team captain Linzi Hamilton said: "We appreciate that Hockey Ireland have had some really challenging decisions to make but we are delighted to be able to compete in the IHL again."

The cancellation of the IHL campaign also applies to the end-of-season Champions Trophy tournament played between the top four finishers in both the men's and women's leagues.

Normally, the winners of the regulation season qualify for one of the two European competitions the following year and the winners of the Champions Trophy are awarded a place in the other continental event.

Lisnagarvey and Pegasus were to have represented Ireland in this year's European tournaments but Garvey's hosting of the second-tier competition in May has been cancelled.

Pegasus have yet to have it officially confirmed that their trip to Amsterdam for the top-tier women's European Hockey League series is cancelled.

Hockey Ireland's statement added: "European club competition places will be determined at a later stage by the board pending the outcome of the current European season and a conclusive decision from the EHF."

In addition, it has been decided that this season's men's and women's Irish Senior Cups, with Lisnagarvey, Cookstown and Pegasus still involved, could be played at the start of the new season, coronavirus permitting.

Hockey Ireland also indicated that there is a possibility that a new, full-season Irish Hockey League second-tier event could be introduced next season.

In the provincial leagues, a points percentage per games played is being used to determine league placings.

Cookstown men and Queen's women will therefore be crowned champions.

Belfast Telegraph