Vice-president crux could hit Munster fixture list

Munster Hockey’s first series of provincial fixtures could go the same way as last Saturday’s national EY Hockey League with a blanket set of postponements looking imminent.

Vice-president crux could hit Munster fixture list

While the EYHL dispute centres around expenses for umpires and a lack of development support, the Munster issue centres on the non-appointment to date of a vice-president for the upcoming season.

It means that scheduled fixtures in women’s Divisions 1 to 4 could all be rendered null and void barring a 12th-hour appointment.

According to Munster Hockey’s constitution, the core management committee positions must be filled for a season to commence. To date, no club has nominated a vice-president to be considered while no individual either has come forward to volunteer their services.

It continues a worrying trend for local hockey after a number of close calls in recent years. Last season, a similar threat went out with no treasurer in place up until a couple of weeks before the scheduled start while a number of fixtures secretaries offered to double up their workload to avoid other committee shortfalls.

“To run smoothly the Munster Branch needs volunteers,” Munster PRO Graham Catchpole said.

“All these volunteers come from the clubs in Munster. We are finding it harder and harder to get people to commit to these positions which only puts added pressure on the existing members of the Munster Branch.

“A full Branch makes everything easier for the members, many of whom also double up on their own club committees.

“It’s regrettable that the Branch has to take such a decision but continuing without a vice president could mean a lack of representation at a national level, nobody presenting trophies and ultimately lead to no president or vice president the following season.”

Having canvassed clubs, Catchpole says that the time factor is cited as the reason why no one has come forward.

“People feel these roles will be too time-consuming when in fact it’s not the case if the workload can be shared across more people.

“In my own opinion, it’s a wider societal issue. More and more people see clubs as a facility provided for them, rather than something they are part of.

“The same goes for the Branch. People will happily spend an hour on their phones or laptops of an evening, just browsing. If even half that time was spent giving back to a club/branch, it would make things far easier for everyone involved.”

At this point, Catchpole says there is no contingency plan in place, adding: “we simply need a vice president”.

At national level, it already looks as if the second series of games in the women’s EYHL will be postponed. For a second week, no official appointments have been made by the Irish Hockey Umpires Association (IHUA) following a frustrating weekend.

The IHUA had hoped to meet with the Hockey Ireland board over the weekend for talks but a quorum of board members was not available. The two bodies are hoping to arrange a conference call in midweek but the timeframe leaves it unlikely, even with a resolution, that Saturday’s games will go ahead.

The conflict exists over the rate of expenses for umpires on a national level. Currently, elite umpires get a rate of 20 cent per kilometre travelled with a €20 bump for matches outside their home province.

The IHUA are seeking a rate of €70 per game, something Hockey Ireland views as tantamount to professionalism, something which would require approval from the clubs via an EGM.

One event that will go ahead next weekend, though, is the schoolboys interprovincials tournament in Dublin with a full set of umpires appointed with travel and board covered for out of province officials.

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