Lisnagarvey appeal for EHL spot successful as independent panel overrule “null and void” decision

Lisnagarvey have successfully appealed against Hockey Ireland’s allocation of men’s European club spots for the 2020/21 season in the wake of the abruptly cancelled current campaign. 

When Hockey Ireland declared the EY Hockey Leagues “null and void” on May 6th, the governing body took the decision to allocate the European club spots based on the 2019/20 placings.  

Daniel Nelson celebrates a Lisnagarvey goal in their 4-3 win over TRR this season. Pic: Adrian Boehm

This meant Three Rock Rovers initially retained their place as first Irish seed, bringing with it a place in the elite Euro Hockey League while Garvey would be destined for the EuroHockey Trophy II – an event they would have hosted this year but for the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Garvey, however, appealed the decision which was upheld by an independent Appeals Panel – as per bye law 20 of the HI constitution – on Monday, concluding the Hillsborough club should be given the first seed and Rovers the second. 

It means Garvey will play in the Euro Hockey League at Easter 2021, a competition which will feature 12 teams in a reformatted state for this season only. Rovers will play in the third tier EuroHockey Trophy II – both venues have yet to be announced. 

Lisnagarvey chairman Kyle Lunn welcomed the decision, saying: “As a club, we are very appreciative of the work that Hockey Ireland are doing to keep the sport going in challenging times due to the pandemic – particularly an all island sport with different guidance and advice from multiple stakeholders – including governments and sporting bodies.  

“The rapidly changing situation is naturally making planning and decision making difficult, and on this particular question we felt strongly that the decision was incorrect. We’re pleased with the outcome and feel that it is fair.” 

At time of writing, what was contained in Lisnagarvey’s Letter of Appeal and the subsequent reasoning made by the three-person appeals panel have not been disclosed publicly. 

But the decision appears to have overturned the “null and void” position with on-field performance in the 2019/20 season a determining factor. 

“We are in uncharted territory in the current situation,” said HI chief executive Jerome Pels of the situation. 

“The Hockey Ireland board took the decision to declare the season null and void. From there, we had to go back to the last point we had a final result and worked from that basis [for European placings].  

“That is the position we took. The Appeal Panel has taken a different view. We will see what the consequences are but I can imagine a lot of clubs are looking closely at the situation.” 

At the time of lockdown, Garvey were the runaway men’s EY Hockey League leaders and clear favourites to land national glory with 11 of their 18 scheduled games played. Winning the EYHL brings a European spot, albeit the second seeding with the top berth decided via the end-of-season EY Champions Trophy playoffs. 

If Garvey were awarded the first seed on this basis, both Banbridge and Monkstown could make a case for the second European spot on offer. Rovers were in fourth spot. 

Meanwhile, in the women’s EYHL, Pegasus were originally given the top Irish seeding as last season’s champions in May but Loreto were leading the league at the time and so could possibly make a similar case for an upgrade in their Euro treatment. 

Currently, Pegs are due to play in two Euro Hockey League competitions with last season’s FINAL8 refixed for mid-October and the 2020/21 EHL Women to be played from April 1 to 5. Loreto are destined for EuroHockey Trophy II the same weekend. 

Hockey Ireland’s statement on Wednesday did say the women’s Euro places remain as previously announced and so the findings of the Appeals Panel will be awaited with intrigue. Additionally, if the top spots are no longer null and void, questions could be raised over potential promotion and relegation from EYHL2 due to on-field performance.

Release of information on the appeal process is currently on hold as HI appraise Three Rock of how things played out. Among the questions will be the application of Rule 20 which outlines the timeframe for each step of the appeals process.  

From the original HI decision on May 6, the appeal must be lodged and appealed with 28 days with a further maximum of eight days until final notification to the relevant parties of the decision taken. This would leave a June 11th final deadline; final notification was declared on July 1st.  

Should Three Rock wish to appeal, as per bye law 21, they can make their case to Just Sport Ireland within 14 days.

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