Irish Hockey League season declared null and void because of coronavirus

Jonny Bell looked set to win an Irish Men's Hockey League medal with Lisnagarvey
Lisnagarvey led the men's league by five points with eight games left to play

Hockey Ireland has declared the Irish Hockey League null and void after deciding there were too many games remaining to determine a final ranking.

Last month the sports governing body decided that the current season at all levels was deemed finished because of the spread of Covid-19.

The Competitions Working Group was tasked to come up with recommendations on promotion and relegation.

However, this proved impossible which led to Thursday's decision.

The last round of fixtures took place over the weekend of 7/8 March with Lisnagarvey leading the men's IHL by five points over Banbridge with eight games left to play.

At the bottom Annadale were eleven points adrift of the team above them and almost certainly would have been relegated.

In the women's IHL Dublin side Loreto had a three-point lead over Pegasus and Old Alex with three games remaining but the chasers had a game in hand. Ulster side Belfast Harlequins were bottom but only five points behind Railway Union.

However there will be no promotion or relegation between the top league and EYHL 2 although Hockey Ireland will consider increasing the number of teams in the EYHL leagues for next season as well a proposal to explore a full season for EYHL 2 which is currently played in a group format. Those decisions will be taken at a later date.

The end of season Champions Trophy play-offs, scheduled for the start of May, have also been cancelled with European places for next year to be decided by the board once the European Hockey Federation have made decisions on their own calendar.

However the process of deciding the provincial leagues will be handled differently.

All branches including, the Ulster Branch, will use a percentage equalisation method to complete league standings.

Cookstown, Kilkeel and Instonians were involved in a tight three-way race for the men's Ulster title while Queens and Ards were battling it out for the women's championship.

Those decisions are expected to be announced shortly.

Many Ulster and Irish Cup competitions have been cancelled but it is hoped that those that had reached the semi-final stage can still be completed at the start of next season.

Pegasus and UCD were due to meet in the Women's Irish Senior Cup final at the end of March while Lisnagarvey and Cookstown were to be involved in the men's semi-finals.

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