Cork Harlequins are preparing to lodge an appeal with Hockey Ireland as the fall-out from the “null and void” 2019/20 season continues.
The Farmers Cross club is aggrieved at what they feel equates to “relegation” from EY Hockey Men's League Division 2 after they were omitted from the national second tier's invitation list for the upcoming season.
It means Harlequins have gone from touching distance of a promotion play-off to being unable to match that feat until at least 2022.
For Hockey Ireland, their season-ending statement on April 9th stated there will be “no automatic promotion or relegation in the EYHL1 and 2” but they do not deem exclusion from EYHL2 as “relegation” with entry decided by qualification through regional leagues.
That inconsistency between the voiding of the national competitions while local leagues were mathematically completed during lockdown.
Quins were top with one game left of EYHL2 Pool B but were sitting third in Munster Division One below Bandon. The former was voided but, at the direction of Hockey Ireland in that April missive, “percentage equalisation” – effectively a simple points per game method – was dictated to determine final positions, putting Bandon second and Quins third.
With the southern provinces getting two places in EYHL2, that decision proved critical. Quins trailed Bandon by six points but will point to their game in hand and an easier run-in, having played the unbeaten C of I twice, that were not factored in.
Hockey Ireland’s board had asked the EYHL competitions working group to explore the possibility of expanding the second tier and report back.
The proposal was formally turned down this week, however, with player welfare among the reasons cited. EYHL2 has already come under sustained criticism in Leinster and Ulster for its unwieldy format and such a move would add two more rounds of games to a congested calendar.
The problem is less acute in Munster which employs a smaller provincial competition, a reason why most clubs in the region are nowhere near as gung-ho for a proposed “full-season” EYHL2.
With Leinster men’s side Avoca also making inquiries about the situation, it adds yet another headache for the governing body.