IHU must face music over tournament withdrawal

Irish hockey officials will be forced to explain the circumstances that led to Ireland’s much-criticised withdrawal — and subsequent reinstatement — from a high-profile tournament in Argentina.

12 clubs, 10 from Leinster and two from Ulster, have written to the Irish Hockey Association to trigger a clause in the national body’s constitution that will force a special general meeting to be convened in the next three weeks.

The IHA’s board last week withdrew the senior men’s team from the Champions Challenge I in Quilmes, citing the absence of a coach or manager. But after facing stinging criticism from players and supporters alike — fearing the deduction of ranking points that would undermine Ireland’s rise to 15th in the world rankings — the board subsequently apologised as it became clear finance was the main issue.

That sparked a fundraising drive which yielded more than €60,000 in four days — surpassing the target of the €45,000 required to send the side to South America — with promises to ring-fence any surplus for the men’s national team.

The 12 clubs who have written to outgoing IHA chief executive Angus Kirkland have tasked the board investigating the following agenda: “The circumstances surrounding the recent IHA executive decision on October 2 to withdraw the Irish men’s national squad from the Champions Challenge I competition, and the manner of its implementation.”

In addition, they have posed 13 questions surrounding the issue. These mostly relate to funding issues but the clubs have also asked why the players weren’t consulted about the decision, and why the IHA “initially misled its members” over the reasoning for it.

Meanwhile, the on-pitch action this weekend focuses on the Irish Senior Cup.

Cork Harlequins begin their defence of the men’s cup away to Antrim, and are joined in Northern Ireland by Cork C of I, who are away to Kilkeel.

The Mourne men led Banbridge 2-1 at half-time in their Ulster league opener last weekend before going down 6-2, while C of I are coming off a 3-1 win over UCC. Quins got a bit scare from their seconds last week, needing a last-gasp win from David Lombard, but Antrim will be smarting from a 10-1 reverse to Cookstown.

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