Three clubs opt out of EY qualifying

Three of Ireland’s leading non-EY Hockey League clubs have opted out from attempting to qualify for next year’s tournament, it has emerged.

Hockey Ireland this week revealed the draw for the EYHL provincial playoffs, beginning April 15. Eight-team tournaments will take place on both the men’s and women’s side, with automatic qualification for the 2017/18 edition for the winners, while the runners-up get a shot at a playoff against the league’s ninth-placed team.

But Munster women’s champions Catholic Institute, Ulster men’s runners-up Kilkeel and Leinster men’s third-placed finishers Dublin University have all refused invitations to the playoffs.

“We had one eligible qualifying club withdraw from each province, for a variety of reasons,” explained EYHL working group secretary Ian MacDonnell. “Conversely, we know of others in each province who wanted to be involved but were not eligible.”

These include Ashton women, who initially claimed they were entitled to a place as Munster’s fourth-placed finisher after Insta pulled out and third-ranked Limerick also turned down an invite.

Back on the pitch, it’s a totemic weekend for Bandon and Blackrock’s ladies as both go in search of national silverware. David Buttimer’s Bandon will need to be at their best in the Irish Trophy decider against Avoca.

Grant Sweetnam’s Blackrock face Galway II at Belfield tomorrow.

Cork C of I’s men face an EYHL double-header against top three sides Monkstown and Banbridge, both in Garryduff. In Munster, the destination of the men’s title will hinge on the winner of UCC and Bandon’s meeting at the Mardyke tomorrow (2pm).

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