Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ireland to take part in Champion's Challenge

Ireland’s men and women have been confirmed as one of the qualifiers to play in the first ever Champion’s Challenge II competition. The tournament will act as a third-tier of the yearly Champions’ series, behind the Champion’s Trophy and the Champion’s Challenge I and will be Paul Revington’s first full tournament in charge of the men’s team.

His Irish side is the fifth ranked side in the competition – a position based on Ireland’s position in the Olympic qualifiers – behind Japan, Malaysia, France and Russia. Poland, Austria and Chile currently make up the rest of the group, though this could be subject to change should one or more sides pull out.

The women, meanwhile, are rated second, again as a result of the OQT. Chile, the Netherlands Antilles, India, Ukraine, Canada and Russia make up the group.

It begins a busy period for of hockey of three big tournaments though Ireland could end up hosting the competition, as High Performance Director Dave Passmore explains: “We hopefully find out where it takes place in two weeks time. We know the eight teams but we don’t know where it’ll be.

"We’ve applied for it and our expectation is that if we don’t get it, it’ll be in Italy or Chile in June or July. The European Nations cup is in August and the world cup qualifier in October/November.”

Passmore adds that it could throw up a few logistical problems which may have an unsettling effect. “It’s a difficult one because we may not know which WCQ we are going to until September even though we could be going away the next month.

“That was the situation we found ourselves in with the Olympic qualifier. They were going to tell us at the end of November when we needed to leave in January and have flights booked. When you are trying to plan domestic leagues and support the branches it becomes quite complicated.”

The tournament will also have crucial world ranking points on offer which, if gained, will help Ireland receive more favourable draws for future competition.

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