Cork C of I’s men and UCC’s women were awarded the Munster Division One titles over the weekend on a percentage basis having both run up perfect records in the top provincial competition.
For both, though, the abrupt end to the season meant both frustratingly missed out on the closing stages of EYHL2 and a shot at promotion back up to the top tier EYHL1.
C of I were the only men’s side to have copper-fastened a place in the EYHL2 play-offs at the COVID-19 based close of play in early March.
Hockey Ireland, however, declared those competitions null and void with no relegation or promotion this term.
Denis Pritchard, the coach at C of I, said he felt the governing body had no choice but to take this course of action.
“How could you decide to promote some teams and not others on half or two thirds of a season? The way they did it pissed off the least amount of people and I guess they only annoyed the teams who were winning. The rest are no worse off than they were. For us, our hard work counted for nothing in the end other than the fact we know we can do it next year, whenever that happens.”
For UCC’s women’s coach Graham Catchpole, he was happy his side got recognition for their campaign, winning all their Munster league games and reaching the senior cup final.
“It is really unique times and a strange situation. Nonetheless, it is a nice reward for the efforts the team put in.
“We would have been confident we would have gone on and won the title despite having some very tough games against Belvedere and Bandon in particular which went to the wire. But the girls probably feel they did enough.”
UCC were in the frame for a playoff place in EYHL2 with two games to go but will now have to be content to have another shot at it next season. What format that takes remains to be seen.
Hockey Ireland is mulling over an expansion to the second tier with all of the 2019-20 season clubs invited back. In addition, invitations have been sent to sides who were occupying the regional qualification slots when action halted.
If all clubs accept, the women’s EYHL2 would rise to 11 entries from 10 while the men’s would jump from eight to 10 teams with Bandon joining C of I and Harlequins.