Cork Church of Ireland coach Eddie Kirwan says it gave him no joy to watch his side hand out a crushing 28-0 Munster Division One defeat to University of Limerick on Saturday.
The student club, who had only three players left after a mass exodus last year, played the fixture with just eight players, including three beginners and another who had never played hockey before.
C of I ran up a scoreline unheard of in Munster hockey – even in a league that often has mismatches – prompting heated debate on social media with some accusing the club of a lack of sportsmanship, while others claimed the side were in a no-win situation.
“I can only look at us inwardly,” said Kirwan. “We didn’t want to destroy them and rotated players as much as we could, but our players want to work hard. We hadn’t played for three weeks and I have girls fighting for places in the squad for a big game coming up against Harlequins.”
He added that contrary to claims on Twitter, nobody from UL had approached him about conceding the game at half-time, while 15-0 down, adding that he “would have considered it” had they done so.
“I can’t speak for UL and don’t want to do that. I’m a UL alum, I played varsity hockey there and didn’t take any joy in it. We just went out and played a fixture. It was obviously a chastening day for them but it’s up to them how they progress after that. I don’t know what we were meant to do.”
While some have called for UL to move to a lower division, the club has always strived to maintain Division One status in the belief that it will otherwise never attract enough players to keep it in existence. UL’s Laura O’Kane, who missed the game but is one of the three survivors from last season, said they are looking to move on.
“This year we have lots of players training but they can’t commit to matches at the weekend; with only eight players it was inevitable the scoring would be big against us, especially having just found a new goalkeeper,” she said.
“Maybe after 10 goals C of I should have lined out with eight players too to make it a fairer contest and save some of the girls’ dignity. Nevertheless, we are happy we didn’t receive the €350 fine for not turning up as we have a limited budget. We have more players available over the coming weekends so we just want to move on and forget about it.
“Regarding our Division One status, we are trying to get a solid, committed team together even though it’s proving difficult when there are only three of us left from last year. but we are continuing to play the matches, hoping that people will be available to play and won’t pull out, like what happened this weekend.”
Social media reaction to C of I’s 28-0 win over UL
— SSC (@SSCLiveUpdates) October 11, 2014
— Harry (@harrypetch14) October 12, 2014
— Elaine O’ Flynn (@ElaineNiFhloinn) October 12, 2014