Home advantage gives women Olympic boost

Ireland’s women will be spared a €65,000 trip to Uruguay after they were yesterday awarded the hosting of World League 2 — the penultimate tournament on their Olympic qualification journey.

Home advantage gives women Olympic boost

The Irish Hockey Association (IHA) confirmed yesterday the competition will take place from March 14-22 in Dublin next year, the timing reprising the men’s doomed Olympic qualification bid in the capital during the 2012 St Patrick’s weekend.

With another step, WL3, to come for the Irish girls should they finish high enough in the eight-team competition, this won’t carry quite the same gravitas.

Nonetheless, having home advantage and avoiding significant travel and accommodation costs is a major boost to Darren Smith’s team. Ireland had initially been drawn to play in Montevideo in Uruguay but an opportunity to bid for hosting a tournament became available when Spain — initially one of the three round two hosts — were named as round three hosts.

At least two sides from the eight-team event will progress to World League round three, from which a minimum of six Olympic qualifying places will be on offer in late-2015.

The Green Army are currently on a high after they claimed silver and a second-place finish at the Champions Challenge I in Scotland earlier this month, outdoing their pre-tournament ranking by five places with wins over World Cup-bound opposition in South Africa and Korea.

Ireland’s men, meanwhile, will travel to Lancaster in the US for their World League round two competition.

IHA chief executive Mike Heskin said they hope to match the support that greeted the men in 2012, when over two thousand spectators jammed into the National Hockey Stadium in UCD.

“We are delighted to have secured the World League for the women’s team,” he said. “I hope we can give the women’s team the same wonderful support that was delivered to the men in the 2012 Olympic qualifier.

“An international eight-team tournament is the type of competition we always hope to attract to Ireland. As a small country it is difficult to compete with the bigger nations securing a major international tournament so we are delighted the world body has granted Ireland this event.

“It is our intention to deliver a tournament Ireland can be proud of.”

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