League games put back until new year

THE Irish Hockey Association (IHA) has taken preemptive action in postponing this weekend’s Irish Hockey League games, it emerged yesterday.

Round three of the men’s and women’s all-Ireland competition was due to take place across Saturday and Sunday.

However, an IHA statement yesterday confirmed the games will be postponed and rescheduled for the new year.

“As we are now into the five-day range, with the forecast for freezing temperatures set to continue, we have been left with no alternative but to postpone all IHL fixtures for this forthcoming weekend,” the statement read.

“These matches will not be played before Christmas and the IHL committee will meet to discuss the rescheduling of round three.”

Clubs across Ireland have been unable to train this week due to their astro-turf pitches freezing over.

Just five senior league matches — three in Cork, two in Dublin — went ahead last weekend.

A spokesperson for the Munster Branch of the Irish Hockey Association (MBIHA) yesterday said that, while this weekend’s U12 blitz in Bandon and Ashton had been called off, no decision had yet been made on the senior programme.

There is a hope that localised matches in Munster, where little travelling is involved, may be able to go ahead.

Harder than usual winters in recent years have played havoc with the hockey schedule, prompting leading figures such as Ballymoney’s Lynsey McVicker to call for Ireland to follow continental European leagues in scheduling a winter break.

Irish hockey officials have recently taken to making early calls where the weather casts doubt on competitions involving a lot of travelling.

This follows controversy over an abandoned IHL tie in November 2008, after which the association agreed to undertake a review of its rules for national competitions. Annadale were leading Cookstown 4-1 at Coolnafranky in Co Tyrone, when the game was abandoned near the end of the third quarter due to a frozen pitch. The IHL appeals commission ruled the tie should be replayed in full. Annadale appealed — wanting the game restarted with the scoreline intact — but subsequently accepted the committee’s decision to uphold its ruling.

Furthermore, in December 2008, the five U16 girls interprovincial squads travelled to Kilkenny in vain as their tournament fell victim to the weather.

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