Ireland’s women and men both received the best possible draws for their Olympic qualifier ties with both set to face off against Canada in late October and early November.
For the eighth-ranked women, they will be at home on October 26 and 27 against the Canadians, ranked 15th in the world, at a venue in Dublin to be confirmed later this week.
It meant they avoided Belgium, Korea and USA, all of whom are regulars at the top table of the world game.
Canada did reach the Pan-American Games final this summer to book their ticket to these games and could be a dark horse. Their rise has come in the face of their funding being slashed with the whole squad decamping to Belgium en masse, so jet-lag is unlikely to be an issue.
The men, who look set to announce their new coach in the coming days, will be on the road to west Vancouver to face Canada in their two-legged tie on November 2 and 3.
While the caribous will have home turf and a higher ranking (tenth), Ireland have not lost to them in their last 11 meetings, winning seven times against them since 2015, including a 4-2 success in Rio.
Ireland’s form, though, has fallen worryingly in the last 12 months and the hope will be their new coach will be able to turn things around quickly. The draw, though, is the winnable of the options on their table – Great Britain, Spain and New Zealand.
Both Olympic qualifiers will be played over two legs at the same venue with the winner on aggregate earning their ticket to Tokyo 2020.
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