Avoca will replace Fingal in men’s Leinster division one following the ALSAA club’s request to drop down a tier in the wake of a number of retirements and players leaving the club.
With replacements not forthcoming, the club made the application to the Leinster Hockey Association to move down a division and reduce their club’s representation in the leagues to two teams, taking part division two and six.
Without an established hockey playing school in north Fingal providing a stream of players, it has been difficult for the club to attract players despite strong historic links to schools further afield such as Kilkenny College and Dundalk Grammar.
During the summer, there were talks with Suttonians with a view toward amalgamation. These were brought before Extraordinary General Meetings at the respective clubs on August 8 but, while Suttonians’ membership were agreeable, Fingal voted against the proposal.
It means Fingal drop out out of the first tier after 17 seasons, moving up in 1997. With stalwarts like David Bane moving into full-time coaching with Railway Union and Andrew Marshall retiring a year after Adrian Sweeney, it left only Ben Chillingworth, Eamon Bane and Jim Dunne as full-playing links to the side that won promotion back then and has under-pinned their efforts ever since.
At their height, the airport side finished second in division one in 2005, reaching the All-Ireland Club Championships while also playing in the early years of the Irish Hockey League.
Speaking about the move, Chillingworth said to The Hook: “It has been a tough decision to make but we are now looking to rejuvenate their panel in the second tier with a view to regaining promotion in the near future”.
Avoca, meanwhile, were approached by the LHA with a view to returning to the top division in place of Fingal having been the top placed first team in division two, only missing out on promotion last spring after a playoff against Rathgar.
The Newpark club accepted their proposal to move up in a straight swap with Fingal. Suttonians will continue this season with a single team in division two.