Ireland’s hosting hopes dashed

The Irish Hockey Association’s hopes of easing some of their financial worries by hosting round three of the FIH World League have been dashed, it was revealed yesterday.

The national body was hopeful of hosting both the men’s and women’s competitions, which will double as World Cup qualifiers, at the National Hockey Stadium in UCD later this year. The International Hockey Federation (FIH) instead awarded the World League 3 tournaments to Rotterdam in the Netherlands, from June 13-23.

Succeeding with such a venture would have had a number of benefits for Ireland. Firstly, both national sides would have qualified automatically for the tournaments as hosts, and would not have to participate in round two.

The men’s team are headed for New Delhi in India and the women bound for Valencia in Spain over the coming weeks; both are expected to qualify for round three but the combined costs for preparation and attendance at the tournaments could top €150,000.

IHA chief executive Mike Heskin has already warned of a potential “financial crisis year” in 2013, with Ireland required to play an increasing number of competitions abroad amid uncertainty surrounding the association’s own finances and Irish Sports Council funding, which has been cut repeatedly in recent years.

While the IHA would incur a number of costs from hosting the tournaments — including visiting teams’ transport, accommodation for officials and umpires and various marketing and promotions costs — the final total would be a fraction of the cost of sending the sides to World League 2.

An IHA statement yesterday said they had “worked around the clock over the Christmas period and early part of 2013 to try to secure the prestigious event for Ireland” within a tight timeframe.

The promotion of hockey, commercial opportunities and the various financial implications were cited as reasons for the IHA’s decision to bid for the hosting, with the association promising to “continue to work hard to bring more elite competition to Ireland and ensure our teams have the best opportunities to compete at these levels”.

Ireland has been successful in terms of hosting high-profile tournaments recently, with the men’s Olympic qualifiers and various Champions Challenge I events among those to take place in Dublin in the past three seasons.

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