** Words from Southern Fried Hockey’s Alan Good
The IHA announced on Tuesday that the senior and junior interpros will not take place in the 2011/12 hockey season, stressing the decision “has largely been driven by the (provincial) branches, who feel that in a year with Olympic qualifiers, the inability to field full squads puts the cost and associated benefits of the events in doubt”.
The national body’s competitions and interprovincial working groups have been asked to review the staging of the senior and junior tournaments for future years in conjunction with national coaches Paul Revington and Gene Muller, and high performance director David Passmore.
The staging of the U21 interprovincials, currently scheduled for Easter having been scrapped last season in a cost-saving measure, is to be reviewed “as a matter of urgency”.
The IHA board say they are keen for this tournament to take place to facilitate preparation and selection of the U-21 national teams, which were re-established in October having been discontinued in 2004.
IHA chief executive Angus Kirkland yesterday said: “The IHA has consulted widely on the challenges of scheduling all hockey this season.
“The board considered carefully the opinions of the branches and have agreed that the best decision for hockey this season is not to not hold these tournaments.”
Detractors argue that the intensification and expansion of the Irish national setups to include more sessions and development panels has rendered the interpros – first played out in 1897 and once a treasured chance to see all the country’s top players lock horns at once – irrelevant.
Aside from Olympic commitments, the presence of current internationals in interpro tournaments has dwindled in recent years, with the senior women focused on their central preparation programme (CPP) while the majority of the men’s side play the sport semi-professionally abroad.
The junior interpros does not feed into any national representative side, but remains a popular outlet for non-elite players to aim for provincial honours, although Connacht were unable to field a side in the 2011 men’s tournament.