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HI chiefs soften tough travel stance amid backlash

 

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A full fixture list is set to be played this weekend in the women’s and men’s EY Hockey League with the clash of Loreto and Pegasus at Beaufort the pick of the action (stock photo)

A full fixture list is set to be played this weekend in the women’s and men’s EY Hockey League with the clash of Loreto and Pegasus at Beaufort the pick of the action (stock photo)

A full fixture list is set to be played this weekend in the women’s and men’s EY Hockey League with the clash of Loreto and Pegasus at Beaufort the pick of the action (stock photo)

Hockey Ireland has appeared to soften its stance in relation to potentially draconian punishments for clubs who refuse to travel over Covid-19 health concerns.

The first weekend of the EY Hockey League saw Cork Harlequins not play their game with Muckross in the women's top tier, while Cork C of I and UCC pulled out of their Division 2 dates in Dublin. On the men's side, Pembroke did not travel to Banbridge on HSE advice following a positive test for one of their players.

In the appendix to the regulations, updated last Friday (September 25), such a move left them open to forfeiting their games 5-0 and losing home advantage for a future fixture.

This drew outrage from several players with World Cup silver medallist Yvonne O'Byrne asking: "Forfeit points or ask amateur players to take an extra risk that seems to contradict Government advice?"

She implored Hockey Ireland and Sport Ireland to "stop ignoring dismissing clubs' concerns for player welfare. Caution by clubs is not something that should be penalised."

By Thursday, though, Hockey Ireland's tone was more conciliatory in their first public statement on the matter with the sanctions not set to be automatically imposed.

"Rules were sent to clubs regarding the issue of non-travel for matches and automatic forfeiture. However, where a game is not being played due to travel concerns around Covid-19, the club in question must make a submission to the EY Working Group and a decision will be made on the outcome by this group.

"Hockey Ireland respects the decision of clubs not to travel where they are uncomfortable in doing so. However, in the process of accommodating a 2020/'21 league being completed in as close to the usual time-frame as possible, careful management of this issue is required."

As it stands, a full fixture list is set to be played this weekend in the women's and men's EY Hockey League with the clash of Loreto and Pegasus - among the top two for the past two seasons - at Beaufort the pick of the action.

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