Headaches mount for Hockey Ireland's top brass

Headaches mount for Hockey Ireland's top brass

Hockey Ireland look set for a series of appeals over the allocation of European placings for next season in the wake of an independent panel’s decision to overturn the governing body’s decision to declare this season “null and void”.

Announcing that decision in early May, HI handed Three Rock Rovers the men’s top seed and a place in the Euro Hockey League with Lisnagarvey the second spot while Pegasus retained the women’s first spot with Loreto second.

That was on the basis of the 2018/19’s final rankings, the last formal result available to Hockey Ireland.

Lisnagarvey, however, appealed this decision successfully with the independent panel awarding them the first seed with Rovers taking second while the women’s places remain unchanged.

It has opened a can of worms with numerous clubs now seeking further information as they consider challenging the outcome.

Such appeals, though, have been put on hold until details of Garvey’s Letter of Appeal or the ruling being made available to the likes of Three Rock, Loreto or Banbridge. Neither have been forthcoming at the time of writing.

It appears Garvey argued the season should not have been declared null and void in terms of European allocations. 

In the Netherlands and Belgium, while no champions were decided in their competitions, but places in the Euro Hockey League were determined by on-field results in 2019/20.

The Ulster side were runaway leaders of the Irish Hockey League with a five-point lead with two games in hand.

If they have earned the top seed on that basis, though, second placed Banbridge will be aggrieved they did not get the second ticket instead of fourth placed Rovers.

Similarly, Loreto were leading the women’s league with two games to go but did not receive a similar upgrade.

For Rovers, they have a number of potential lines of inquiry. First off, the league only offers the winner the second European spot with the first place decided by the unplayed Champions Trophy.

Next, the timeframe of the appeal looks to be three weeks beyond the limits laid out in the Hockey Ireland byelaws; the initial board decision was made on May 6th, leaving June 11th as the final deadline for a decision. The hearing did not take place until June 1st.

Neither Rovers nor the Hockey Ireland Competitions Committee – who made the initial “null and void” suggestion to the board – were present at the hearing to make a submission.

Chief Executive Jerome Pels is acutely aware clubs are likely to make their case with his board “considering if further action or decisions are needed” to mitigate against a spate of submissions from clubs.

Elsewhere, the wait for the new fixture calendar rolls on with no indication of what plans are in place for the 2020/21 season.

Second tier clubs in both the men’s and women’s EYHL Division 2 had proposed making the competition a full-season event rather than being an add-on to provincial leagues. No formal decision has been made either way on that front.

It has the knock-on effect of provincial branches being unable to plan their seasons as the radical change could see several clubs removed from their local leagues, requiring a mass restructure.

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