Ulster Hockey Review
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Ulster Hockey Review


One of Irish Hockey’s major cup competitions descended into complete farce on Friday when reigning champions Campbellians sensationally withdrew from the 2010 Mens Irish Hockey Challenge at the Semi-Final stage.

Drawn against Leinster club St Brendans in Saturday’s planned Semi-Final, it was anticipated that the match would be played on St Brendan’s regular (synthetic) Home surface at RCSI.

However, St Brendan’s demanded that the fixture be played on a GRASS surface adjacent to their clubhouse in Phoenix Park.

Throughout last week, the Irish Hockey Association made every attempt to persuade the Dublin club to play the match at their regular Home venue at RCSI; however St Brendans refused to budge, citing competition Rule 9.5.1.

This states that
all Cup Competition matches shall be played on a synthetic pitch, except for the Challenge which may be played on the home club’s own surface

This wording was originally drafted by the IHA to accommodate clubs such as Saintfield, who regularly play all their home fixtures on a shale pitch.

It is however unlikely that in their wildest dreams, anyone at IHA HQ would have expected rule 9.5.1 to be cited in favour of a grass surface.

The Campbellians club has released the following statement:-
Mens Irish Hockey Challenge 2010.

It is with deep regret that Campbellians Hockey Club has been forced to withdraw from the 2010 Mens Irish Hockey Challenge competition at the Semi-Final stage.

As reigning champions Campbellians were fully committed to retaining the MIHC title this season; and are disappointed that the opportunity to do so has been removed.

The club fully understands the dilemma faced by the Irish Hockey Association in attempting to resolve the issue of the Semi-Final of a 2010 national cup competition being staged on a grass surface; and remains grateful to those IHA officials (in particular Competitions Committee Chairman John Smyth) who have done their utmost to achieve a commonsense outcome during the past week.

Whilst our position remains that Senior Hockey in the 21st Century should ideally always be played on a synthetic surface, the Campbellians club fully supports the fundamental spirit of IHA Competition Rule 9.5.1 (not to exclude from the national Challenge competitions those clubs who regularly play their home fixtures on a shale surface).

It is however our contention that a Grass pitch can in no conceivable manner ever be construed as a “regular” home surface in this day and age.

Consequently, the fundamental spirit of Rule 9.5.1 has clearly been cynically abandoned.

Nowadays, the inclusion of studded boots within each player’s personal kitbag is something which is neither expected nor practised.

No player in Senior hockey will reasonably expect to ever have to play a match on a grass surface (not least the Semi-Final of a national competition).

To have equipped the Campbellians 1stX1 squad with studded boots suitable for a grass surface, would have cost in excess of £1,000.

To expect any club to incur such expenditure for a one-off fixture is entirely unreasonable.

The Campbellians club also has a clear duty of care in respect of the health and safety of its players.

To have contested the fixture on a grass surface without suitable footwear would have posed a number of significant health and safety risks.

Given the above, the Campbellians Club unfortunately had no alternative but to withdraw from the competition; and does not expect to receive any form of censure from the Irish Hockey Association in respect of this decision.

We do however expect that the Irish Hockey Association will regard this entire fiasco as a clear opportunity to examine (and ultimately re-draft) Rule 9.5.1, in order that such a ridiculous situation may never again arise.

All right thinking members of the Hockey fraternity will no doubt be wholly disappointed by the manner in which St Brendans have chosen to interpret Rule 9.5.1.

They have unfortunately done a great disservice to the promotion of our sport across the island of Ireland.

Hockey is the clear loser in this instance.

Campbellians Hockey Club.

Friday 5th March 2010.

Campbellians would have been hot favourites to again reach the Final, particularly as St Brendans could not have fielded two of their key players (red-carded in the quarter final meeting with Ballynahinch).

Consequently, the latter stages of the competition have now been thrown into disarray, and the final outcome of the 2010 Mens Irish Hockey Challenge will now struggle to ever achieve any serious degree of credibility.

Hopefully the IHA will indeed take this opportunity to re-write the rule book in order to ensure that such nonsense may never happen again.


Anonymous on 5 March 2010 at 20:17 said...

You can't be serious - why didn't the IHA simply tell St Brendans that they couldn't use a grass pitch for the game. It was the semi final of a national competition for goodness sake! No way should they be allowed to exploit a loophole in the rules.

They played all of the previous rounds of the competition on astro I notice and all of their Leinster league games this season....

Anonymous on 5 March 2010 at 21:33 said...

Good to see your new blog up and running Ulster Review from a Leinster supporter

Anonymous on 5 March 2010 at 23:04 said...

The rules are there to be used, if the shoe was on the other foot then there would be no hesitation....

Anonymous on 5 March 2010 at 23:22 said...

Couldnt agree more with their decision to withdraw, in this day and age it is farcical that hockey and grass should be included in the same sentence, the IHA have bottled this one!

Anonymous on 6 March 2010 at 08:40 said...

It is an absolute disgrace that this has been allowed to happen - I checked the St Brendans website and they have played every game this season on astro including previous round of this competition. The letter of the law shouldn't matter in this case, they are abusing the spriit of the rules. The pitch they were proposing to use hasn't seen a senior mens game for a long time. The health and safety issue aside, the situation should have been dealt with firmly by the competitions committee once it was raised.

The IHA have once again refused to deal with a situation which needed addressing and the negative publicity from this does our game no good whatsoever. Weak, weak, weak response IHA.

Anonymous on 6 March 2010 at 09:27 said...

23.04 what a pile of rubbish, if the shoe was on the other foot there is NO way on earth any Ulster side would force any team to use a grass pitch!!! St Brendans have abused the system and the IHA are a laughing stock!!!

Anonymous on 6 March 2010 at 19:14 said...

If you can't beat them...

Anonymous on 6 March 2010 at 20:33 said...

Now, be honest. Supplement the word shale for grass and see how and where the argument stands. I am sure that it would change your opinion.

What I don't understand is why didn't Campbellians just come down and win the match? Were they scared of defeat? Did they have issues with player availability? Or were they just arrogant about grass and threw a hissy fit?

One way or the other, not coming down to play smacks of cowardness. Given the IHA have clearly decided that playing the match on grass is not against the rules, presumbly not fielding for a match is equally against the rules?

Anonymous on 7 March 2010 at 00:10 said...

20:33 Hockey is moving foward and the time for playing on grass pitches should be long gone now.

Seeing St Brendans have played all of their other matches on an astro pitch but yet choose to play this particular one on it, should surely suggest that they are scared of defeat and having issues of player availability?

Anonymous on 7 March 2010 at 17:51 said...

Can anyone tell us when the last time a grass pitch was used for a senior mens match, let alone the semi-final of a national competition? It's an embarrassment to anyone associated with St Brendan's that their club should progress to the final in this manner. Even if they lift the cup how can they seriously consider themselves worthy champions??? Having seen Campbellians play, no way would they be scared to travel. A proper club who play proper hockey, would've ripped St Brendan's apart. IHA is a disgrace! 'Hinch fan.

Anonymous on 8 March 2010 at 11:12 said...

Im pretty sure campbellians were just to scared to go and play. I have seen them play and apart from their defence the rest of them are nancy boys !

Anonymous on 8 March 2010 at 13:13 said...

The use of the Grass pitch is clearly a deliberately cynical ploy. Yes, it's within the 'letter of the law' but in no way, shape, or form is it within the 'spirit of the game'. I think the reaction of the vast majority of hockey people on here and on "The Hook" shows the utter disbelief at St Brendan’s decision.
If winning and getting one up on the IHA/Ulster Branch/teams in Ulster/whoever, is all St Brendan’s care about then fair play to them.
They are now up there with those bastions of sportsmanship like Diego Maradona and Greg Chappell.

For the record, I think ALL Irish competition games should be played on Astro turf. In this day and age there is no excuse for a club not to be able to find a slot on an Astro turf pitch given a few weeks notice.

Anonymous on 8 March 2010 at 15:42 said...

The disgrace is that Camp did not play, we all hate playing on grass & shale but hey we just get with it. I would suggest that its the oppositions reputation that persuaded Camp to pull out. Brendans recent red cards may have something todo with it. But thats why we have umpires.

Playing on grass is no more dangerous that shale or indeed astro.


Anonymous on 8 March 2010 at 18:15 said...

11.12 and 15.42 what a pile of rubbish, can i suggest tht st brendans, if u look at their league postion are struggling in their own league for one and secondly campbellians are the complete opposite, senior two is a physical league probably the most physical in ulster hockey yet it doesnt seem to affect them then considering if im not mistaken thay are currently unbeaten in the league and havent been beaten in the irish challenge cup in two seasons!! scared.. i dont think so pal

Anonymous on 9 March 2010 at 05:29 said...

Does The irish CHALLENGE CUP really even matter ? Just old men running around knocking the pan out of eachother, there isnt really any decent hockey been played so who cares.

Campbellians will get a shock when they get promotion. they are a pretty poor side anyway i played against them for south antrim and they stink.

Anonymous on 9 March 2010 at 09:44 said...

05.29 spot the child!! ur daddy let u outta the house to play on a saturday?

Anonymous on 9 March 2010 at 09:56 said...

Ah...south antrim that had to beat ARMAGH on strokes?? I played for south antrim a few years ago, very glad i left. Only interested in their 1s and forget about all other teams. Know someone currently in the club would wholy agree, a cousin that left after 12 years along with 5 team mates because the club descended to a new low, lets not talk about campbellians. Undeaten in senior 2, they will be there next season to take the wind out of souths sails!

Buzby on 9 March 2010 at 11:56 said...

2 things

1. 5:29 does not represent mine or the views of any other member of my regular 1st XI.

2. 9:56 If you are going to make comments like this have the balls to put your name on it. I must have missed the mass exodus of players you refer to and do not seem to have missed your cousin and his 5 mates!

Anonymous on 9 March 2010 at 14:15 said...

11:56- just havin a pop at 05:29 who is just off the back of linden cup win and is childish enough to say challenge cup doesnt matter. irrespective of team level, any cup matters, an extra achivement for ur seasons work. come this saturday, had rules not been bent, campbellians would have been celebrating picking up the challenge cup again. just shows 05:29s small minded-ness

Buzby on 9 March 2010 at 20:07 said...

14:15 I assume you are the same as 9:56. I made it clear that I do not believe this comment was made by a member of our 1st XI but you have made a rather sweeping statement about south being focused on our 1s. I must stress that I make no apology for the Club being 1st XI focused as the developmentof a stronger 1s will assist in building a stronger club. like most ulster clubs we train 2 nights per week as a 1st XI squad which includes 8 schoolboys out of a 15 man squad. What I do not understand about your comment is how this could be interpreted as not caring about the other teams in the club?

Anonymous on 9 March 2010 at 21:08 said...

I do not believe for one moment that the comments attributed to a player from South Antrim are indeed such. I played for South against campbellians in the semi and we were all impressed by their play and very relieved to come through with a win as they pegged us back for most of the second half and played some great stuff. It is our feeling that they are a very welcome addition to the league as they play attractive hockey. Whoever is trying to make mischief, please stop as it does nothing for the game or this blog.
NEXT, if someone is so unhappy at South, may I suggest you come to the AGM and actually offer your services to committee or captaincy as believe it or not, all those who hold such positions do so for no reward and often little thanks.
FINALLY, I have played for many clubs over a LOT of years and would say that South are a well run, forward thinking club.
Let's all just get on, Jonny Taylor.

Mark - Bangor HC on 15 March 2010 at 11:18 said...

05.29 is a strange comment. Unless people put their name and club after their post then they could easily make stuff up about other clubs.
For all we know 05.29 played against South and got beat, and how he is throwing his toys out of the pram.

09.56 is a strange comment too. I've read on this blog (and the previous blog) about how good Souths youth policy is. But yet 09.56 claims that they only focus on their firsts?
Someone is obviously telling porkies.

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