Friday 6 December 2019

Hockey: YMCA's elite status hinges on play-offs

David Medcalf

Provincial underachievers Dublin YMCA and Belfast Instonians must come through the rigours of the 'wildcard' play-offs at the weekend to be part of the elite Irish Hockey League next season.

In Leinster, YMCA were overtaken by Railway Union, who finished the season like a runaway train to consign their south Dublin neighbours to fifth in the table.

The fact YMCA managed to reach the final of the IHL earlier this month counts for nothing as they must now shoot it out in the wildcard series with Instonians and UCC, hoping to claim one of the two places on offer.

Similarly, though Instonians made the last four of the Irish Senior Cup, their form in Ulster was too patchy to secure their place at the top table in 2012/13. The expectation is they will make the grade along with their YMCA, given that no Munster side has ever come through the qualifiers.

In the women's competition, Hermes' pedigree has not spared them the obligation to contest the eliminators. Also in contention are Ards and Galway.

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