Presidents Newsletter July 2020
Following the ups and downs of the International sides in their quest for Olympic Qualification, it was back to domestic hockey for the 2019/20 with the EYHL now in full swing when the Men started in September while the Ladies league started later, on November 9th due to the Ladies Olympic Qualifier in Energia Park, Donnybrook in early November.
Seven rounds were played before year end when there was a winter break during December and January when the Indoor game came to the fore with the provincial leagues taking place and the qualifiers from these took part in the National Finals which were held this year in the Kingfisher Club, NUIG, Galway on February 2nd,2020. There was a feast of Indoor hockey in this magnificent facility where the pitch size was at the maximum allowed and it took some getting used to as all the players previously played their league games in much smaller halls.
At the end of a very entertaining days hockey, the double was achieved by Railway Union where the Men defeated Three Rock Rovers in a shoot-out (1-0) following a 3-3 draw at the end of normal time and the Ladies defeated Muckross on a score-line of 2-0, ensuring both secured a place in Europe for 2021. The finals this year were streamed live on the Euro-Hockey Channel and the commentator was “the voice of Hockey in Europe”, Nick Irvine.
On Wednesday March 4th, I was invited by the Ulster Branch to attend the Final of the Belfast Telegraph Senior Schools Cup Final in Lisnagarvey between Belfast Royal Academy and Friends School Lisburn. It was a bright sunny spring day and we were entertained by two very good hockey teams in an excellent final where BRA excelled and were deserved winners on a 4-2 score-line. This was the first time that they have won the Cup since 1974.
After this competition things changed in the world with the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic which necessitated the cessation of all aspects relating to hockey. First to be hit were the schools with the cancellation of the Schoolboys All Ireland (John Waring), All Ireland Schoolgirls (Kate Russell), June Smith competition and latterly the Junior Inter-pros in May. Both the EYHL and EYHL2 competitions were stopped as per a HI communication on April 9th and declared null and void as there were too many games left to play to determine a fair final ranking for the season. The Champions Trophy was also cancelled.
The Hockey Ireland Annual General was also postponed from May 16 and has now been rescheduled for August 22nd.