Hockey Ireland has declared the 2019/20 national EYHL and EYHL Division 2 seasons null and void but there is hope the national cup competitions can be completed early in the 2020/21 term.
These were among a range of decisions taken by the governing body to cope with the truncated season due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Action at all levels was called to a halt on March 12 with Hockey Ireland deeming the current season “finished” two weeks later with the prospect of a return unlikely.
With no provisions in the rule books for an abandoned season for either the national body or the provincial branches, a working group was put together to determine next steps.
There were calls to put off making a final decision on the marquee EYHL until much later in the summer.
However, the governing body felt there “are too many games left to play to determine a fair final ranking by mathematical or other method”. Lisnagarvey were odds-on to retain their title, holding a five-point lead but they still had seven league games to fulfill in the men’s division.
The conclusion to the women’s EYHL was shaping up to be the tightest run-in since the competition was introduced with four teams all in the running with four games left.
The statement said there will be no automatic promotion and relegation between the first and second tiers but did add the competitions group will consider options of increasing the number of teams playing at the national level.
To this end, eight of the 10 clubs in the second tier of the women’s EYHL2 — including UCC —have called for a “full-season” version of the competition.
Currently, clubs are expected to play between 10 and 12 games in EYHL2 in addition to playing a full part in their regional league which could amount to another 18 games.
With Irish Senior Cup, regional cups and the indoor leagues, it can amount to over 35 games for some teams.
Their proposal would see a 10-team second national tier, withdrawing the clubs from their regional leagues.
Hockey Ireland has confirmed they will give consideration to the proposal.
While there is widespread support on the women’s side, it is not yet clear whether the men’s clubs wish to follow suit.
As for the provincial leagues, Hockey Ireland have suggested “Branches will use a percentage equalisation method to complete league standings in their respective province”.
In such a case, Cork C of I’s men and UCC’s women would be crowned Munster league winners but this remains to be ratified by the local organisers.
With all national cups either at the semi-final or final stages, Hockey Ireland has expressed a hope of potentially completing these competitions early in the 2020/21 season if possible.
The same hope is being expressed for the regional cups; Bandon and UCC are through to the women’s Munster Senior Cup final while UCC’s men are due to play either C of I or Bandon in their main competition.