Cork C of I have taken the decision not to travel to Dublin to face Monkstown on the opening day of women’s EY Hockey League Division 2 with Cork Harlequins and UCC considering following suit.
It leaves them potentially open to tough sanctions with a fear of serious penalties should they not fulfill fixtures over Covid concerns.
The EY Hockey League’s Division One and Two have been classed as hockey’s elite competitions by Sport Ireland and thus given the green light to go ahead in Dublin despite ongoing level 3 status.
Harlequins, UCC and Cork C of I are all scheduled to play in the capital but all have safety concerns about travelling.
C of I confirmed they will not play their Division 2 game against Monkstown with a player testing positive for Covid-19 this week. The positive case, however, does not automatically lead to a formal postponement.
Speaking of the decision, manager Sarah Jones said she “admires Hockey Ireland for trying to get the games organised but it is completely irresponsible in the current situation to make us travel up to Dublin when it is in lockdown.
“I have to think of the welfare of our players [which includes four healthcare professionals] and it is ridiculous to put them in that position. Why could they not be flexible and rearrange for local teams to play against each other to avoid this?”
Harlequins, meanwhile, also have a number medical workers involved who have been told by employers they will have to self-isolate for 10 days should they make the trip to face Muckross in Division One.
They requested a postponement from Hockey Ireland. If it is refused, should they decide not to travel, the likelihood is the game would be declared as forfeited. This is based on the precedent created last Sunday when Blackrock did not field for the Irish Hockey Challenge final.
Quins coach Darren Collins feels clubs and players are being put in an unfair position.
“They’re treating us like Munster or Leinster [rugby] or the League of Ireland; we are miles from that level,” Collins told the. “We simply don’t have the resources or expertise; we are not being tested all the time and we don’t have a medical team around us every day.
“We are really stuck because we also don’t want to forfeit points. We are just looking for common sense and a small bit of empathy. If we are really worried about cases, we should be given the chance to refix matches to a later date.
“It doesn’t seem to be getting any traction up there. They tell us Sport Ireland says it’s ok so off you go. If you don’t play, you might be in trouble.”
Collins adds that playing could also set a dangerous precedent. They must make at least nine similar trip this season - six in Dublin - with no car-pooling and no changing facilities available at the other end.
For UCC, discussions are ongoing this afternoon between the club and the college regarding whether they could travel to Santry to face Trinity.