While tough penalties for sides not fielding in the EY Hockey League were outlined in regulations issued last Friday, September 25, Hockey Ireland has said such sanctions will not be automatically imposed until they have assessed submissions from clubs to explain their reasons not to travel.
Last week, Cork C of I, Harlequins and UCC all informed the national body they would not be travelling to Dublin while in Level 3 over Covid-19 concerns, saying it was contrary to the latest government advice.
The men’s game between Pembroke and Banbridge was called off on the day the game following a positive test in the former’s camp with the HSE advising against travel from Dublin to Co Down.
Relating to such cancelations, Hockey Ireland’s initial stance was communicated in CEO Jerome Pels’ letter on September 23 to clubs to welcome them to the new season, saying the EYHL had received clearance to go ahead.
“The Expert Group clarified the status of competitions in case of a level 3 situation in the ROI. The advice given by Sport Ireland is: ‘In relation to competition, it is permissible for participants that fall under the professional/elite/inter-county sports/senior club championship banner to travel to pre-planned competition to maintain fixtures.’
“The EYHL Matches fall under the exemption as being a ‘senior club championship’.
“Regarding travelling to and from these fixtures, Hockey Ireland is following current Government advice that if the competitors are coming from outside a level 3 area to participate in senior national competition, that is permissible.
“The same principles apply for journeys out of a level 3 area. This letter could provide ‘proof’ to the authorities of the need for travel, but we are happy to provide specific letters if necessary.”
Subsequently, updated EYHL rules were issued on the eve of the new campaign with a specific Appendix 2 added to address Covid-related issues.
Under a section titled “Failure to fulfil fixtures”, it stated:
“A team refusing to fulfil a fixture played under Hockey Ireland Return to Play Protocols, citing Covid- 19 concerns, shall be considered to have forfeit the fixture.
“The match will be recorded as a 5 – 0 loss for the defaulting team and the match awarded to the opposing team. The defaulting team will also forfeit home advantage in their next scheduled home EYHL/EYHL2 fixture between the clubs.
“Where both teams refuse to fulfil a fixture a 5 – 0 loss will be recorded against both teams. Both teams will also forfeit home advantage for a future EYHL/EYHL2 match to be determined by the IHL SWG. A club cannot gain an advantage form forfeiting a match.
“The IHL SWG shall have the authority to increase the penalty for a second or subsequent forfeit. The IHL SWG shall have the authority to deal with repeat breaches of this regulation under
“Regulation 16: DISQUALIFICATION OR FAILURE/REFUSAL TO PLAY of the Irish Hockey League regulations.”
In the event of Local Lockdown, the appendix adds:
“Where a team is subject to local restrictions due to the impact of Covid-19 that mean it is unable to fulfil a fixture it may request a postponement of the fixture from the IHL SWG.
“A team subject to local restrictions may apply to forfeit a match. If a forfeit is sanctioned a 3 – 0 loss will be recorded for the fixture and no further penalty imposed.
“Where both clubs are subject to local restrictions due to the impact of Covid-19 restrictions they may request a postponement or apply to forfeit the fixture at no penalty other than the fixture being recorded as a 0 – 0 draw.
“The IHL SWG shall adjudicate on all forfeit requests.
“Where a postponement is granted the match shall be played on a date determined by the IHL SWG or an earlier date if agreed by both clubs and the IHL SWG.”
The severity of the rules drew plenty of strong reactions, particularly from Quins’ experienced international duo Yvonne O’Byrne and Cliodhna Sargent online and in the Irish Times.
By midweek, though, Hockey Ireland’s stance appeared to be softening. No sanctions had been imposed by that stage with the governing body welcoming submissions from the clubs involved to explain their position.
In a release issued to the press, they added: “Hockey Ireland has endeavoured to bring competitive hockey back to its community in as safe a manner as possible, with all guidelines from Sport Ireland and the Government being followed.
“Rules were sent to Clubs regarding the issue of non-travel for matches and automatic forfeiture. However, where a game is not being played due to travel concerns around COVID-19, the Club in question must make a submission to the EY Working Group and a decision will be made on the outcome by this group.
“Hockey Ireland respects the decision of Clubs not to travel where they are uncomfortable in doing so. However, in the process of accommodating a 2020/21 league being completed in as close to the usual timeframe as possible, careful management of this issue is required.”
At time of writing, all scheduled national level fixtures – along with Division One ties in Leinster and Munster – are due to go ahead.
For Harlequins, they will meet Munster rivals Catholic Institute at home. The rest of the games take place in Dublin with Pegasus going to Beaufort and Belfast Harlequins travelling to UCD.
In the men’s EY, four of the five games are in Dublin with Annadale hosting Monkstown the one taking place outside the capital.
In addition to fixture cancelation, Hockey Ireland also clarified what will happen this season should it be impossible to complete all fixtures.
“Where circumstances do not permit the completion of a full league programme, the IHL SWG shall have the authority to determine the final outcome of the league on a points per game (PPG) basis. PPG represents the number of points gained by teams divided by the number of fixtures played. (see Promotion/Relegation)
For EYHL, this means:
- C1. Where the season is curtailed with more that 70% (63+matches) or more of the matches played the final league table shall be determined by applying PPG.
- C2. Where the season is curtailed with fewer than 70% (46-62 matches) of the matches played the final table shall be determined by applying PPG.
- C3. Where the shortened season has been adopted and is subsequently curtailed final placing shall be determined by applying PPG.
For EYHL2, this is how it comes into play:
- C i. In a curtailed season where teams have completed at least one fixture against each other team in its Pool, the final Pool standings shall be decided based on results achieved where each team has played each other once only. Where teams have completed both fixtures, home and away, the first played fixture only shall apply.
- C ii. Where the season is curtailed and all teams have not completed at least one fixture against each other team in its Pool, the final Pool placing will be determined by applying PPG.
EYHL Promotion, Relegation, Title & Play-off places.
Any team that has secured a) the EYHL winners title, or b) an EY Hockey Champions Trophy Play- off place prior to the season being determined Curtailed shall be declared a) EYHL Champions and b) be allocated a place-off place. Play-off ranking may alter due to application of PPG.
Elsewhere, it’s men’s finals weekend in Leinster with the 2019/20 Neville Davin, Railway, Intermediate and Minor cups down for decision on Saturday while the women’s Jacqui Potter Shield features Muckross II and Old II on Sunday.
Saturday 3rd October 2020
EYHL Division 1: Annadale v Monkstown, Lagan College, 3.30pm; Corinthian v Three Rock Rovers, Whitechurch Park, 5pm; Glenanne v Banbridge, St Andrews, 1.30pm; Pembroke v Lisnagarvey, Serpentine Avenue, 2pm; UCD v YMCA, Belfield, 1pm
Munster Division 1: Ashton v Bandon, Ashton School, 12.30pm; Cork Harlequins v Cork C of I, Farmers’ Cross, 3pm; Midleton v UCC, Midleton College, 11.45am; Waterford v Catholic Institute, Newtown, 12.30pm
Neville Davin Cup final: Pembroke v Corinthian, Serpentine Avenue, 5.30pm
Railway Cup final: Monkstown II v Three Rock Rovers II, Merrion Fleet Arena, 12.30pm
Intermediate Cup final: Bray II v Dublin University, Temple Carrig, 1.30pm
Minor Cup final: North Kildare II v Avoca IV, The Maws, 1pm
EYHL Division 1: Cork Harlequins v Catholic Institute, Farmers’ Cross, 1pm; Loreto v Pegasus, Beaufort, 2.45pm; Muckross v Railway Union, Grange Road, 1pm; Pembroke v Old Alex, Serpentine Avenue, 4pm; UCD v Belfast Harlequins, Belfield, 2.50pm
Leinster Division 1: Genesis v Rathgar, St Raphaela’s, 12pm; Glenanne v Corinthian, St. Andrews, 3.45pm; Monkstown v Clontarf, Rathdown, 2.45pm; Naas v Trinity, Caragh Road, 2pm; North Kildare v Avoca, The Maws, 11am
Munster Division 1: Bandon v UCC, Bandon GS, 12pm; Cork C of I v Limerick, Garryduff, 1pm; Waterford v Ashton, Newtown, 2.30pm
Sunday 4th October 2020
Jacqui Potter Senior Shield – 2019/20 Final: Muckross II v Old Alex II, Muckross Park, 3.15pm