IRISH hockey’s U21 interprovincial tournament is to be scrapped this season, as part of a restructuring of the oft-maligned annual competitions.
The Irish Hockey Association’s chief executive Angus Kirkland has informed provincial branch representatives that just one men’s and one women’s interpro competition will be held this year, on March 26 and 27.
All players over the age of 18 will be eligible for selection, effectively meaning the senior and U21 events have been amalgamated.
The decision follows a lengthy consultation process between the interpro working group, comprised of national and provincial branch representatives, and national coaches Paul Revington and Gene Muller.
The IHA’s high performance working group has also been tasked with finding a fourth team to compete in the men’s event alongside Munster, Ulster and Leinster, in line with recommendations made by Revington earlier this year. Candidates for this berth could include the Irish U18 side or a foreign outfit.
The interpros have come in for much criticism. Many within Irish hockey believe the intensification and expansion of the national setups has rendered the interpros irrelevant.
With the impending centralisation of the women’s panel, and the continued exodus of the Irish men’s squad – Brian Doherty’s move to Belgium’s Braxgata makes him the 15th member of the international panel to head abroad – many will argue that this scaling down of the interpros is necessary in such austere times.
Initial discussions had pointed towards the formation of an U23 tournament to replace the senior and U21 formats, but did not gain approval.
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