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Suspension of hockey leagues set to be extended

 

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Cancelled trip: Niamh McIvor had been set for Russia

Cancelled trip: Niamh McIvor had been set for Russia

Cancelled trip: Niamh McIvor had been set for Russia

Hockey Ireland's Management Board met last night to discuss various matters relating to the current embargo on all hockey activity but have delayed issuing a statement until today.

However, it's fair to suggest that the suspension imposed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic will be extended well beyond the original date of March 29.

In a statement issued by Ulster Hockey earlier this week, the local governing body said: "Obviously, the suspension will continue for an indefinite period."

There are a number of challenging issues to be addressed, including whether to declare the current season null and void or to attempt to conclude the various leagues at a later stage when it is deemed safe to do so.

Among the other competitions which remain to be decided are the various knockout events, including the Irish Senior Cups for men and women, which have reached the semi-final and final stage, respectively.

Meanwhile, the European Under 18 Championship, scheduled for Kazan in mid-July, is the latest international tournament to fall victim to the pandemic.

The Russian government has cancelled all sporting events in the country until further notice.

A total of 16 Ulster players across the boys' and girls' Irish teams are in the extended squads.

Irish Hockey League starlets Charlotte Beggs and Niamh McIvor of Pegasus along with Lisnagarvey's Conor Quinn were among the players who had been training hard for the trip to Russia.

It's cancellation is a double blow for McIvor and Quinn, in particular, as the embargo on all Irish hockey activity which was extended last night meant that they were unable to represent their respective schools in two major events.

McIvor was part of the Belfast Royal Academy team which lifted the Belfast Telegraph Ulster Senior Cup, beating Friends' 4-2 earlier this month.

BRA were due to take part in the all-Ireland Championship over the next two days in Galway but that was one of the early casualties of the outbreak.

Quinn helped Friends' reach the Burney Cup final by beating local rivals Wallace High 5-1 a fortnight ago.

Friends' were due to meet Sullivan Upper in the final tonight at Stormont but now there is a possibility that the trophy will have to be shared between the teams.

There is, however, a small glimmer of hope for the Irish U-18 teams as the European Hockey Federation has not a made a final decision to cancel the tournament completely.

The governing body will issue a further update on April 7 and if they decide to go ahead with the bi-annual event, will then attempt to find another host nation but the chances of the tournament taking place appear remote.

Belfast Telegraph