The IHA have moved to clarify the breakdown of clubs involved in the EY Hockey League promotion playoffs that get under way next week, particularly on the women’s side.
It comes in the wake of Trinity ladies and Catholic Institute’s withdrawal from the playoffs. Trinity’s departure from the process due to the proximity of exams meant that their playoff for the playoffs with Randalstown was scrapped with the Ulster side advancing.Catholic Institute stepped away, citing the costs as part of their reasons, which meant that, under rule 5.5 of the EYHL Provincial Playoffs, Limerick were offered a place in the playoffs as the next best placed side in Munster.
They, too, turned down the invitation, leading to Leinster’s fourth placed side Glenanne being the next side offered a place in the competition.
Ashton Hockey Club, however, argued that as the fourth place finisher in Munster behind Limerick, they should have been offered a place.
But, in reply to their query, Ian MacDonnell of the EYHL Working Group stated that it was not a case of asking each Munster club until one was finally sources.
In his correspondence with Ashton, MacDonnell stated the following:
“The rule under 5.5 EYHL Provincial Play-offs qualification states
• All clubs who qualify for the EYHL Provincial Play-offs must confirm their participation by the due date requested.
• If a club is unable/un-willing to take up its qualifying place within EYHL Provincial Play-offs, the place will be offered to the next club from that province.
“The key reference here is to ‘all clubs who qualify’ (in this context Munster 1 /Munster 2) and where one of these qualifying Clubs (Catholic Institute/Bandon) is unable to take up their place then the next (non-qualifying) club will be asked i.e. Limerick.
“Limerick is not a qualifying club in its own right, accordingly, the rule does not subsequently mean if that if the ‘next club’ declines that the invite is onward to the next non-qualifying club from that province until one accepts.
“When the next Munster Club (Limerick) declined to take up the invite this effectively ended the application of the next (non-qualifying) club extension rule within Munster. This rule has been consistently applied across all provinces for these play-offs in reaching out to the next non-qualifying club only.”
Following the decision of three clubs to withdraw from the playoff process, the EYHL working group’s Inez Cooper has confirmed that they will be looking at how they can adapt the process for next season.
The difficulty is striking a balance between offering a regional spread of clubs but limiting the costs and volume of matches involved in the process at this stage of the season.
Cooper also confirmed that, on the men’s side, Kilkeel did request that their club rule to not play on Sundays be accommodated and moved to an alternative date.
“This was considered but declined. Another club would have been unfairly impacted to facilitate this and would cause other problems.”
On the playing front, meanwhile, Zoe Wilson could give Randalstown a big boost for the playoffs as she confirmed she will be stepping away from a sports scholarship with Syracuse University.
The 18-year-old Irish international will play out the rest of the season with her home club and is eligible having lined out for Randalstown before the IHA’s cut-off date of December 31, playing in the Ulster Denman Shield on December 27.
At Syracuse, Wilson helped the outfit win the NCAA title in her debut season.
“Attending Syracuse University on a hockey scholarship was an amazing opportunity and an experience I would recommend to anyone.” she said to the Belfast Telegraph. “However for a combination of reasons that included both hockey and my future career path I have made a decision to return home.”
In Leinster, Rathgar play Our Lady’s in a Division 1 playoff at 4pm on Saturday at Grange Road with the winner guaranteed a place in the top tier in the province for 2016/17.
The loser of that tie will have to wait and see how a number of things pan out, namely who the EYHL playoffs affect the Leinster league should a couple of clubs move up to national division, vacating spaces in the provincial league.
Women’s Leinster Division 1/2 promotion/relegation playoff (Saturday): Our Lady’s vs Rathgar, 4pm, Grange Road