Ireland’s Olympic-bound men’s hockey team will bid to make up a €225,000 funding shortfall as they ramp up their preparations for this summer’s road to Rio.
Craig Fulton’s men, the first Irish hockey team to qualify for an Olympics in 108 years, learned their fixture fate this week. They’ll play five games in just seven days during the pool stages.
Seventh-ranked India are first up for the Green Machine on August 6 with world top three sides Germany and Netherlands following in quick succession. A result in either of those would generate momentum for a must-win game against Canada before they finish up their pool campaign against Argentina.
The Dutch and the Canadians, plus Korea, are among the visitors to Ireland over the summer for warm-up matches, with UCC’s Mardyke grounds the setting for two rare Munster-based international games against the Netherlands on July 4 and 6.
But with no Irish sports team having qualified for an Olympics since 1948, it has highlighted major funding inadequacies for an amateur side who are €225,000 shy of what they require to face full-time programmes in other countries.
A crowdfunding campaign was yesterday started to try to kickstart that process, attracting over €4,000 worth of support in its opening hours. It is reminiscent of 2012 when the group raised €60,000 in just four days to enable them compete in a tournament in Argentina.
Domestically, it’s a busy weekend with the EY Hockey League playoffs set to decide which Irish club sides will compete in Europe next season. There’s no Munster interest in these but UCC’s ladies do face Belfast Harlequins in a promotion-relegation playoff, with the winner guaranteed national league hockey next season while the loser reverts back to their provincial setup.
The men’s Munster Senior Cup final between Cork C of I and Bandon closes the domestic season this evening at Garryduff while the Masters Interpros sees 19 provincial teams battle it out at Grange Road.
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