Ulster Hockey has ruled that Ulster’s top four sides - including Lisnagarvey - who will play in the IHL from next season, will no longer feature in Ulster Cups, such as the Kirk Cup and the Anderson Cup.
Lisnagarvey had put a proposal forward at Ulster Hockey’s AGM on Tuesday night that all Ulster Hockey cup competitions involving Ulster Premier teams should also include the Ulster teams competing in the full-season Irish Hockey League.
However, the proposal was rejected, with Ulster Hockey’s Management Board stating: “It is time to move on and not continually re-argue the IHL issue...but it now seems some clubs are trying to re-argue the issue, giving rise to the suspicion that it is only for their own self-interest.
“Unfortunately it appears that not only do they want to play in the IHL but they wish the rest of Ulster Hockey to change its Competitions and History to meet their desires and needs, without taking cognisance of the impact that this will have.”
However, a Garvey spokesperson said the decision would “devalue” the cups.
They stated: “We were disappointed. We have been involved in the cups for the last 60 years or so and to not be in them is disappointing.
“It also devalues the cups with the top four teams - Banbridge, Lisnagarvey, Cookstown and Annadale - not being it it.
“It means that at the start of the season we will have no fixtures. But they may find that those finals, particularly the big Kirk Cup final on Boxing Day may not be well attended as there is no big draw there.”
Garvey’s incoming Chairman Mark Murray said that whilst the decision was disappointing, it was “not the end of the world.”
He commented: “It was myself who put the proposal forward and when I sent it in I expected it to be a lot less confrontational than it turned out to be.”
Lisnagarvey had asked the board to add to their current legislation, which states that only clubs playing in the Ulster Premier League (UPL) can play in the Ulster cups, that the cups feature teams from the UPL plus clubs from Ulster playing in the IHL.
“I didn’t think they would mind, but clearly they did mind. But it’s not the end of the world, we will probably just organise something between the IHL clubs and do that instead.”
The Chairman feels that in future sides in Ulster Hockey and those in the IHL will work more closely together.
“We had to take the long view and I suspect there will be more integration between IHL teams and the Ulster league teams.
“I believe things will normalise when passions die down, I’m hoping it’s a blip.”
With Garvey usually acting as hosts for the Kirk Cup final on Boxing Day, the Chairman said that the club haven’t discussed whether this is something that will change.
“The cups are not the focal point of our season but our presence is practical, it doesn’t make financial sense not to involve the top four clubs, it is a big money spinner on Boxing Day.
“The final has been hosted at Lisnagarvey a lot of the time and to be honest we haven’t thought about what’s happening.
“It’s not something that’s come up, but we have a Management Board meeting next week. We have no axe to grind with Ulster Hockey. We have 11 teams and only one in the IHL. For all our other teams nothing is going to change. All this furore is about 16 to 18 players out of 200 who won’t be playing in Ulster Hockey.
“We’d like to have played in the cups, it would be good to keep that association going. We have been playing in the cups for years, but it is not the end of the world.”