Queen’s were declared men’s national indoor champions on New Year’s Day without having to play a national decider after Leinster were not in a position to put forward representatives for this weekend’s proposed IHA finals weekend.
Five teams are currently competing in the Leinster league which is due to be completed on January 11 when the playoffs are due to take place in St Columba’s.A compromise was sought between this “mis-alignment” with the IHA’s January 4 final date which was identified in October but no solution was agreed.
Queen’s won up north in a two-leg playoff with NICS just before Christmas between the only two Ulster sides to enter indoor sides this season.
“As a result, the Ulster champions, Queen’s, have been declared the winner of the IHA Indoor for this season and will represent Ireland in Europe in 2016,” a statement on the IHA website confirmed.
It is another mis-step in the indoor game’s ropey recent history. The IHA ran the last five seasons of the code but mounting costs and a much reduced playing pool – after initial enthusiasm – saw it returned to the provinces this season to run domestic competitions leading to an All-Ireland finals weekend.
The initial 2009/10 season saw 16 women’s and 11 men’s teams take part but that number dropped to just three teams last year – reigning champions Railway the only Leinster side to travel north – on the men’s side while no Leinster sides played in the women’s competition this year.
Wicklow did make their debut this year while Three Rock, Avoca and Clontarf also returned to the fray for the Leinster competition but, with no free weekends on the outdoor calendar, it remains very much on the periphery.
Previous national coaches, including Paul Revington, have extolled the virtues of indoor for technique and close skills in the past few years.
Railway are currently preparing to represent Ireland in the 2015 EuroHockey Indoor Club Champions Challenge I in Rotterdam where they are paired with the Dutch hosts, Slovakia’s SK Senkvice and Slovenia’s HC Lipovci in the group stages.
On the women’s side in Ireland, Ards were confirmed the national champions for the fourth successive year as they won a five-team pool in Queen’s PEC on December 20.
Ards will compete in the second tier of European indoor club hockey in Vienna in February. They are in a one-group competition with SV Arminen, Royal Antwerp, Dundee Wanderers, Belarus’s Ritm Grodno, Croatia’s HAHK Mladost and Switzerland’s Rotweiss Wettingen.