Lisnagarvey’s successful appeal over Hockey Ireland’s allocation of European places for next season could yet open the door for Cork C of I’s men to stake a claim for promotion to the top tier of the EY Hockey League.
The 2019/20 season was initially declared “null and void” by Hockey Ireland but Garvey – runaway leaders of the men’s competition – successfully argued that the Euro spot for 2021 should be determined by results on the pitch this year.
The Garvey appeal called the decision to void the season “flawed and unjust” and “without reasonable rationale”, feeling that the “teams best placed at the time” should represent Ireland. This point of view was upheld by the independent appeals panel.
The outcome meant the Ulster club – as runaway leaders of the EYHL – were upgraded from the second European seed to number one, bringing with it a ticket to the elite Euro Hockey League.
Previously, Three Rock Rovers had been announced as first seed as winners of the 2018/19 EY Champions Trophy, the last completed qualifying competition.
Hockey Ireland duly handed Rovers the second Euro spot but this is now being challenged by Banbridge – second at the time of lockdown, ahead of fourth placed Rovers.
Loreto have also formally appealed to Hockey Ireland based on the precedent set; they were leading the women’s EYHL at the time of lockdown.
For good measure, Rovers have escalated the case to Sport Dispute Solutions Ireland with questions over the protocols of the initial appeal. The EYHL usually only provides the winner with the second Euro seed with the other determined by the Champions Trophy, another bone of contention.
C of I, meanwhile, are keenly monitoring the situation as the various rulings could reopen a debate over whether promotion and relegation should be implemented.
The Garryduff side were the only club confirmed in the final four of the EYHL Division 2 playoffs and so would be the obvious candidate to go up if “on-field” performance was brought back into play.
The club have already put the Hockey Ireland competitions committee on notice of their desire to return to division one after a year’s absence, particularly after an April update suggested a proposal to increase entrants was among options being considered.
In the latest draft of the competitions calendar, a note confirms no official format has been confirmed as yet.
“We are aware of the situation developing and we are awaiting the publishing of the initial Lisnagarvey decision as we are aware it could affect us directly,” a C of I club official told the.
“We are considering all possible options as, since initial news of the leagues being declared null and void was released, we have made it clear to the Munster Branch and Hockey Ireland that we want our 1st XI competing in next seasons EYHL1.”
As for a return to competitive action, the conclusion of last season’s Irish Senior Cup and the Irish Hockey Trophy are currently being proposed for September. The men’s semi-finals are pencilled in for September 5th, with the finals on the weekend of September 19th.