St Brendan's/Phoenix Park have made it through to their first national final as a joint club in controversial fashion after Campbellians pulled out of tomorrow's Irish Hockey Challenge semi-final tie.
The reigning champions refused to play on the grass in the Phoenix Park and, after a couple of days of negotiations, formally pulled out of the fixture late this afternoon.
The rules of the Irish Hockey Challenge do not stipulate that an astroturf pitch must be used though Brendan's did play in the second round of the competition at the recently laid sand-dressed pitch in Dardistown in round two of the competition.
Explaining their reasoning in a statement released last night, the club said: "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."
The club also cited that their players would need to buy studded boots specifically for the fixture, something they felt was too great a cost to bear for a "one-off" fixture.
It means Brendan's will contest their first national final since 1974 when they fell 4-0 to Lisnagarvey II while Phoenix Park's former guise, Lorraine claimed the Junior Cup back in 1971 when they beat Cork C of I II, 2-0. They await Larne or Limerick in the final, to be played on March 20.