Hockey: Munster game faces administration crisis

Munster Hockey officials have again warned that the sport could grind to a halt in the province if key administration positions go unfilled.

The provincial branch’s AGM in Mitchelstown on Wednesday night ended with eight positions, including the ladies registrar, men’s fixtures secretary and three ladies divisional secretaries, remaining vacant following an absence of nominees.

Prior to this season, the branch spent three months hunting for a new treasurer, secretary and men’s fixtures secretary, with Munster Hockey chairman John Dennis double-jobbing as interim secretary.

Volunteers were eventually found for these roles but only after the branch warned there would be “no fixtures, no umpires, no registration and no hockey in Munster until these vital positions are filled. This is a very regrettable step but the branch cannot run hockey in Munster without these volunteers.”

Incoming branch president Finbarr Kelleher struck a similarly cautionary note, urging clubs to find volunteers over the summer to help fill the roles or face the prospect of next season’s competitions not being able to start.

Although one of the best-attended AGMs of recent years, the reticence of those present to go forward reflects ongoing issues with volunteerism at all levels in the province.

A recent Munster Hockey survey showed that 40% of 503 respondents felt that the few volunteers in their club were stretched to their limits. The report also indicated that the primary reasons people did not volunteer to fill branch positions were the time involved (54%), location of meetings (13%) — with many incorrectly perceiving that all meetings were held in Cork city.

Munster Hockey also repeated its call for volunteers to help out with a variety of roles ranging from ticket desk operators to ball patrol as Cork gets set to host the U18 European boys and girls championships in late July, the first Irish-based event of its calibre to be held outside Dublin since 1998.

Meanwhile the Rio-bound Ireland team will also be in Cork to take on world number two the Netherlands in a pair of games in the Mardyke on July 4 and 6.

The race to make next season’s EY Hockey League hots up this weekend with the final rounds of the provincial playoffs at Grange Road.

Bandon’s men are Munster’s sole representative in the semi-finals, taking on a fancied Instonians side looking to complete part three of a seasonal quadruple.

The winners of the men’s and ladies competitions will replace Annadale and Greenfields respectively in next year’s competition, with the runners-up bound for a playoff against Cookstown (men) and UCC (women).

Here’s a little extra sport. Watch the latest BallTalk for the best sports chat and analysis:

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