Dave Passmore has received clearance to run an ongoing women’s U21 programme from Hockey Ireland.
It is a big boost for the age group which has had a chequered run. Initially scrapped in 2004 due to costs, Ireland re-entered European competition in 2012 at the bottom rung of the ladder, earning promotion through the ranks to the A division for 2017 in Valencia.
The women stayed in the top tier when Spain were unable to field for their decisive final game due to a norovirus outbreak.
The EHF confirmed that no relegation would occur as a result, allowing Ireland play in the 2019 top tier where the 2020 World Cup places will be decided. The men were relegated with one win from five. In the wake of the tournament, both coaches called for more commitment to the grade with men’s boss Jonny Caren, saying: “The thing for me is we go from this tournament to probably not being thought about until the next European tournament in two years. That’s not right. This needs to be a continual programme, we need to be training full-time. Otherwise, the gap is too big.”
Based on a pay-to-play model this year, both the Irish men and women received no central funding from Hockey Ireland and had to fundraise the entirety of their respective programmes over the summer.
As such, Passmore is delighted to get the chance to start work early — in a similar manner to each of his likely opponents in 2019 — with a core group of players.
“Our aim is to develop the athletes in all areas over the next year to lay the foundations to push hard to qualify for the 2020 Junior World Cup and to develop towards senior representation.
“There is plenty of talent and athleticism in the group but the hard work needs to start now and we have some quality match opportunities for the summer to help us work towards these goals.”
His 38-strong panel will feature Cork Harlequins’ duo Michelle Barry and Emma Buckley, UCC’s Jenny Clein and Catholic Institute pair Layra Foley and Katie Dunleavy.
The list includes eight of the Irish senior women’s squad but is predominantly quite a young panel with the vast majority eligible at this age group for two more years.
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