Friday, July 10, 2009

Potential club v country tug of war as EHL and WCQ dates named

The announcement of the dates for the first round of the EuroHockey League (EHL) and the 2010 World Cup qualifying (WCQ) tournaments has led to concerns over men's player availability for both club and country.

Just one week separates the EHL's round 1b from the first of three WCQ events with a very real possibility that, depending on the draw, Pembroke and Glenanne's international players - comprising eight of the current panel - could be double-booked.

Plenty of gaps remain to be filled in, the first of which happens next week when the EHL committee will announce the venues for the first round of their competition. Round one will be split into two weekends, running on October 9-11 and 23-25.

Two of the WCQ events have been announced already with Lille hosting on October 31 to November 8 followed by Invercargill, New Zealand on November 7-15. A third tournament will be announced in due course.

Should Ireland finish in the top 5 in their division of the European championships, they go into a WCQ tournament with their destination to be decided once all continental competitions are completed.

Whilst there currently seem a fair amount of variables, the recent convention has seen Irish players withdrawn from club action for well over a month ahead of major tournaments of this ilk.
As such, the proximity of the two tournaments is likely to cause problems for a number of the EHL's second tier countries.

Europe's top four countries in the European A-division in August qualify directly for the World Cup but the next four countries go into the WCQs while also supplying a minimum of six clubs to the EHL.

On the women's side, Ireland can qualify directly for the World Cup should they reach the semi-finals of next month's Europeans. Failing that they will go into a WCQ of their own with Seville, Spain and Santiago, Chile announced as two provisional venues. India and USA will vye for the third space though if Spain take one of the top places, both could be hosts to guarantee the IHA an expensive away trip.

Meanwhile, as reported by Southern Fried and the Examiner, Irish men’s hockey got a boost this week with news of a €70,000 grant from the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) in its campaign for qualification for the 2012 Games in London.

The OCI financial support aims to enhance the team’s effort at the Champions Challenge Cup in Dublin, the European Championships in Wales and a World Cup qualifying tournament later this year.

President of the OCI president Pat Hickey said: “The Olympic Council has negotiated this special team sport grant through an International Olympic Solidarity programme in order to assist the Irish Hockey Association’s goal of qualifying an Irish men’s team for the first time at an Olympic Games.”


Queso said...

Pat Hickey needs to look over the history books.... We've already previously qualified for an Olympic Games in 1908 and won silver medal no less... although only four teams competed at this event: England, Ireland, Scotland & Wales..... unless of course that's what we said in order to get the money!!!

Stephen Findlater said...

* Quick addition: I spoke briefly to the EHF President Martin Gotheridge about these concerns.

There is apparently no other dates in the calendar to fit every big event in conveniently and so this is a necessary evil.