Olympic clash sees IHA take axe to interpros

MYSTERY again surrounds the future of Irish hockey’s inter-provincial tournaments after the Irish Hockey Association (IHA) confirmed the senior and junior tournaments will not take place during the 2011/12 season.

The IHA stressed 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 inter-provincial 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 inter-provincials, 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 are keen for this tournament to take place to facilitate preparation and selection of the U21 national teams, re-established in October after being axed in 2004.

IHA chief executive Angus Kirkland yesterday said: “The board considered carefully the opinions of the branches and have agreed that the best decision for hockey this season is to not hold these tournaments.”

Aside from Olympic commitments, the presence of current internationals in inter-pro tournaments has dwindled in recent years, with the senior women focused on their Central Preparation Programme while the majority of the men’s side play the sport semi-professionally abroad.

Meanwhile, Revington yesterday announced a core and a peripheral squad, comprised of 24 and 22 players respectively, to train in the run-up to March’s Olympic qualifier in Dublin.

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