Eight of the women’s EYHL2 clubs are hopeful they can compete in a season-long version of the competition for the 2020/21 campaign as Hockey Ireland’s competitions committee considers what happens next following the truncated 2019/20 season.
They made their case in a letter – signed by Trinity, Monkstown, Corinthian, Queen’s, Lurgan, Ards, UCC and NUIG – to the working group this week with their views set to be taken into consideration.
Currently, EYHL2 exists in a middle-ground with clubs playing in both their provincial leagues as well as this competition with between 10 and 12 games. When cups are factored in, it leaves clubs with well over 30 games for a large group of clubs to play – excluding indoor – each season.
In the letter, the clubs jointly requested the “Working Group recommends to the Board of Hockey Ireland that EYHL 2 becomes a full-time, 18 match competition from season 2020-2021 onwards.
“It should be sufficient to say that we feel strongly enough about this matter to write at this time. It is our expressed wish that Hockey Ireland should use the current period to listen to the teams, players and coaches involved and act accordingly. We are happy to discuss this matter, and any issues relating to it, in any form that you or Hockey Ireland deem appropriate over the coming period.
“Similarly, we feel the issues which would arise should this happen – the nature of promotion/relegation, geographical concerns – could be ironed out early in the Summer, well ahead of the new season, COVID-19 dependent.”
While clubs have welcomed the introduction of EYHL2 to provide a stronger bridge between the provincial and national level competitions, it’s current format has created a number of issues.
For instance, in Leinster, clubs are expected to participate fully in two leagues, leading to an ongoing train of refixed matches with many taking place in midweek.
Twice this season, for example, Monkstown have had to play seven matches in four weeks with many others enduring similarly stressful schedules for player well-being.
The variation in standard between provincial and EYHL2 level was also cited as problematic while there is a hope playing in a “full-season” competition would help player retention.
** At the time of submitting the letter, Greenfields and Cork C of I had yet to indicate their position on the matter