Irish head coach Andrew Meredith has labelled the International Hockey Federation (FIH) as “amateurish” on the eve of the World League round two in Delhi following a late decision to adjust the tournament parameters.
Ireland play Bangladesh this morning in the first of five games in the competition over the next seven days.
Initially, the aim was to finish inside the top two to progress to a third round that will act as a qualifier for the 2014 World Cup.
But the FIH threw a spanner into the works at the manager’s briefing over the weekend, saying that only the three best-placed runners-up from the four round two events will now advance along with the tournament winners.
With Ireland the second highest ranked side in the competition after hosts India, Meredith is acutely aware of the consequences of this adjustment to the rules.
“You come into a tournament and two days before it, they change the rules – there’s no other world organisational body that would be so amateurish,” he said. “Can you imagine FIFA doing this? It’s really incredible.”
For a sport with well-documented financial issues, the change could have wider consequences.
Should Ireland finish second this week, they will have to wait until June before knowing if they have progressed. In turn, they will also not know whether they will be drawn to play the third round in either the Netherlands or Malaysia in July.
Given that the former would cost €30,000 while the Asian venue would cost closer to €90,000, it makes financial planning nigh on impossible in Meredith’s eyes.
“Where do you come up with a huge sum like that? It’s financially delusional.
“The cost of world hockey is escalating beyond some organisations’ means. Secondly, even if you have access to the funds, you can’t approach the Sports Council due to the timing.”
Elsewhere, Three Rock Rovers retained Ireland’s place in the EuroHockey indoor club Champions Challenge I with a sixth place in Budapest, defeating Turkey’s Pursaklar Bedeyie 8-4 in their crucial tie yesterday.
UCC’s Irish Senior Cup dream ended as Ards raided the Mardyke with a 2-0 win, Janice Vaughan netting the first before teeing up Becky Weir for an insurance goal just after half-time. There was better news for Catholic Institute’s men, who advanced to the Irish Hockey Challenge final after seeing off PSNI on penalties following a 3-3 draw.
In Munster, the shock of the weekend came at Garryduff where Cork C of I’s women rallied from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Cork Harlequins, landing another dent to the league leaders’ hopes after their loss at Catholic Institute last week.
Institute hammered Limerick 12-1 with Eimear Cregan scoring six, while Ashton and Bandon played out a scoreless draw in west Cork. Fermoy’s 1-0 win away to UL all but assures they will play Division One hockey again next season while the students, without a point this season from 11 games, could be facing relegation trouble.
The big game in Leinster saw table-toppers UCD and Railway Union remain deadlocked following a 4-4 draw.
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