Tough European Championships draws for Irish hockey teams

The Irish men and women’s teams have both been handed typically tough draws for next year’s European Championships in Antwerp.

Tough European Championships draws for Irish hockey teams

By Stephen Findlater

The Irish men and women’s teams have both been handed typically tough draws for next year’s European Championships in Antwerp.

The women have been grouped with England as well as fifth-ranked Germany and outsiders Belarus.

The men face a Netherlands side going for three European titles in a row, Germany and Scotland. For both tournaments, the top two in the pools go into the semi-finals while the bottom two contest the relegation pool.

It is the first potential Olympic qualifier with the overall winner earning a ticket to Tokyo 2020. The other route for Ireland is via the World Series with Hockey Ireland putting their hands up to host the next phase of that competition for men and women in the spring.

The Series currently has a host-venue slot open for an eight-team event which Ireland would need to finish in the top two. Winning the rights ensure they avoid a costly tournament away to one of the already confirmed events with Malaysia for the men or Japan for the women a possibility.

With both Irish sides likely to be top seeds for this round of the qualifiers, a successful bid is likely to depend on the national body proving they have a suitable venue.

EuroHockey Championships, Antwerp 16-25 August 2019.

MEN’S POOL A (MA): Belgium, England, Spain, Wales.

MEN’S POOL B (MB): Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, Scotland.

WOMEN’S POOL A: Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Russia.

WOMEN’S POOL B: England, Germany, Ireland, Belarus.

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