With the threat of relegation no longer an issue, Three Rock Rovers will hope to push for promotion from the EuroHockey Indoor Club Champion’s Challenge I in Bologna, Italy.
The last three years have seen Irish clubs maintain their place in the third tier of indoor club competition in their last fixture of the tournament – Railway in 2007, Pembroke in 2008 and Three Rock with a stunning 8-1 win over Swansea Bay.
But such concerns are absent this year as the Turkish and Slovakian entrants have pulled out, meaning they will occupy the two relegation spots.
As such, Three Rock are among six sides vying for the two promotion spots up to the EuroHockey Indoor Club Champion’s Trophy.
They begin this morning with an immensely trick tie against hosts Bologna who dropped down to this level after HC Bra were relegated to this level last year.
They feature two Russian imports, including 2003 World Cup participant Sergey Stasiouk, as well as Argentinian German Chaves to bolster their bid.
They follow up with a fixture against Croatia’s HK Jedinstovo before facing Belarus’ Stroitel Brest on Satruday morning – a side who will be well known to Pembroke and Ireland, featuring many Belarussian internationals who also competed in last season’s outdoor EuroHockey Club Champion’s Trophy.
Rovers renew rivalries with Slovenia’s HK Pliva Lipovci from last time out before facing Hungary’s Epitok – a side who a number of the Rovers’ selection faced as part of an U-16 tour to Holland back in the mid 90s.