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Playing Euros in October defies logic, says Shirley McCay

 

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Warning: Shirley McCay of Pegasus

Warning: Shirley McCay of Pegasus

�INPHO/Oisin Keniry

Warning: Shirley McCay of Pegasus

Shirley McCay has questioned the wisdom of staging the European Hockey League in October in Amsterdam where Pegasus are due to represent Ireland.

The continental governing body has announced that the event will be rescheduled for October 18-22, having originally been planned for last month over the Easter weekend.

However, the EHF has also added a proviso, stating that the tournament, involving a total of 16 men's and women's teams, will only take place subject to Dutch government advice relating to its 'organisational and financial viability'.

As things stand, no sporting event in the Netherlands can take place with spectators until a vaccine for coronavirus is available so unless one can be found between now and October at the latest, the competition would either have to be played behind closed doors or cancelled.

With medical experts suggesting a vaccine could be a year or more away, the likelihood of fans being permitted to attend the EHL would appear remote.

If that were to be the case, then the EHF would stand to lose a huge sum of money with around 15-20,000 spectators expected to attend the five-day event in normal circumstances.

Pegasus and Ireland defender McCay insists that if the showpiece were to go ahead, it would present logistical difficulties for her team and others, with competing countries having varying approaches and time frames for the resumption of sport after the lockdown.

In Ulster, there is no such framework and hockey is unlikely to start again until stage four of the NI Executive's roadmap at the earliest.

McCay said: "I wouldn't be too certain clubs across Europe (ourselves, English and Spanish teams in particular) would be back on a pitch come October, with social distancing rules applied for training never mind full contact in matches .

"So I don't really know how much clubs were consulted in the decision-making process, if at all.

"Even in terms of booking accommodation and flights, it's such unknown territory that clubs run the risk of having to book at the last minute which would only add to the costs that would be incurred."

Meanwhile, the U-14 European Championship which was due to run alongside the senior event has been cancelled, much to the disappointment of Dromore, who qualified for the first time after being crowned Irish champions earlier this year.

Dromore Youth Officer Andrea Wilson said: "It's gutting for everyone and the entire squad had invested a great deal of time and effort into the proposed trip.

"It's so disappointing after all the hard work that went in around logistics, kit, financial contribution from sponsors, fund raising and parental input," she added.

Belfast Telegraph