Ireland lose EuroHockey League place for 2013/14

The European Hockey Federation confirmed that Monkstown will not be playing in the 2013/14 EuroHockey League following the release of the tournament’s ranking list on Thursday.

It marks a dramatic turnabout in fortunes for Irish club hockey in the marquee European event, coming just a couple of seasons after both Glenanne and Pembroke represented Ireland in the KO16.

Despite Lisnagarvey’s fine performance in reaching the second phase of the competition this season, Cork Harlequins’ seventh place finish in the Trophy saw Ireland’s ranking put in peril.

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By virtue of the performances by their representatives at the same event, Poland and Austria moved clear of Ireland while Belarus also moved ahead due to their EHL showing.

Welsh side Cardiff & UWIC, though, were the real surprise package as they reached the final of the Trophy.

It lifted Wales up from 15th to a share of 12th place with Ireland with a points tally of 11.25 and they moved ahead of Ireland for the final slot on the list by virtue of a better goal difference across their cumulative matches this term.

This was the same method which saw Cork Harlequins denied a place in the EHL last year with Scotland drawing level with Ireland with Kelburne’s performance at Trophy level edging out Irish hope of two berths.

Monkstown will therefore contest the EuroHockey Club Champions Trophy next spring while it remains to be confirmed if Banbridge play in either the second or third tier of club competition.

On the plus side from an Irish perspective, a strong showing in the “B division” can provide a healthy launchpad to winning back EHL places.

Pembroke and Glenanne’s Trophy wins in 2009 and 2008 – in tandem with TRR’s run to the EHL KO16 – played a large part in earning Ireland two spaces in the competition, a situation which was maintained for three seasons.

From this perspective, it might actually be preferable for Irish second seeds Bann to be placed in the third tier from an Irish point of view though nothing has been fully confirmed just yet.

This would mean Ireland’s points tally would not be halved by having two sides in the qualifying levels of the competition with a strong Monkstown performance making up the gap in jig-time.

On the women’s side, the EHF have yet to finalise the rankings list but there is hope that Railway Union’s performance in Antwerp can push Ireland into the top six ranked nations.

How the points tally up, though, is unknown currently due to the cancelation of classification matches in Hamburg in April due to inclement weather. Azerbaijan’a Atasport and Belarussians Ritm Grodno were both involved in those games and are nations Ireland can move ahead of potentially to earn a place at the top table.

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