Belfast Telegraph

Irish breathe a sigh of relief as chiefs clear up relegation mess

 

By John Flack

Ireland's U21 women have avoided the threat of relegation from the top flight of the EuroHockey Junior Championship after a bizarre set of events at the tournament in August in Valencia.

Dave Passmore's team were due to meet Spain in the last game of the relegation group on the final day, needing a win to stay up.

However, the hosts were unable to field a team as the majority of their squad went down with a mystery illness, later diagnosed as a virus.

Rather than bring the players back and have the game played at a later date, the European Hockey Federation have decreed that it will now not take place.

The authorities have instead decided that none of the three teams who were threatened with relegation into the second tier will go down and the next tournament in two years' time will be enlarged as a one-off.

The EHF statement said: "Considering the board's decision that failure to properly complete the tournament was due to a force majeure, it was agreed that points cannot be fairly or reasonably allocated.

"Therefore, the executive board decided that no team will be relegated in 2017."

The European governing body's decision has been greeted favourably by national U21 coach Passmore.

He said: "This was the best and most logical decision for all involved and I applaud the EHF for being open-minded.

"While unavoidable, it was really disappointing for the athletes to have worked so hard for seven months and then only to have played three matches."

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