Top flight tie off due to dearth of umpires

The dearth of top-class umpires in Munster finally reared its head as a Division One men’s game was unable to be played due to the absence of sufficiently experienced officials.

The province has long relied on a small pool of volunteer umpires who are assigned to Division One games every weekend by the Munster Hockey Umpires Association.

But with many unavailable due to injury or personal circumstance, Cork Church of Ireland B and UCC were each told to supply an official for their clash at Garryduff.

This is standard practice in lower divisions but not many umpires are suitably experienced to handle a top-level men’s game. Two such whistle-blowers could not be found; protocol suggests the teams’ coach, captain or manager should step in, but the clubs agreed to instead postpone the game.

Members of both clubs admitted privately that the scenario is likely to repeat in the near future, admitting that postponing games is not a viable long-term solution.

Of the games that did go ahead, the most eye-catching result came at the Mardyke where a resolute defensive effort helped Bandon earn a deserved 1-1 draw with UCC.

Emily O’Leary’s late goal saved the students further embarrassment after Ciara McCarthy had put Bandon in front in the first half, but College will look back and wonder how they failed to score from 11 other short corners.

College also learned the identity of their Irish Senior Cup quarter-final opponents; they’ll face Ards on January 19 after they beat Ulster Elks 3-0 in one of three refixed clashes.

Hermes scraped past Armagh on penalty strokes and meet Railway Union next, while Ballymoney are already in the semi-finals after beating Corinthian 2-1.

Catholic Institute’s clash with Pegasus was called off by the Irish Hockey Association on Friday to prevent a second wasted journey from Belfast for the latter, and will be played either this weekend or in January. UCD await the victor in the quarter-finals.

Two Ali O’Connor bullets from short corners helped Cork C of I shake off a resolute Waterford in the Irish Hockey Trophy, while Bandon’s men also advanced thanks to a late winner in their 1-0 victory over North Down, German teenager Julius Händel sweeping home Fred McElroy’s cross with 90 seconds to go.

In the men’s Division One game that did go ahead, Cork Harlequins had a handy 7-1 win over their own seconds to open up a six-point lead at the top of the table, though second-placed C of I have two games in hand.

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