Tuesday 17 September 2019

Irish face Canada in Tokyo qualifiers

Ireland got the Olympic qualifier draws they probably desired as both the men and women will face Canada for their Olympic ticket to Tokyo 2020. (stock photo)
Ireland got the Olympic qualifier draws they probably desired as both the men and women will face Canada for their Olympic ticket to Tokyo 2020. (stock photo)

Stephen Findlater

Ireland got the Olympic qualifier draws they probably desired as both the men and women will face Canada for their Olympic ticket to Tokyo 2020.

In both instances, the Caribous were the lowest ranked potential opponent and so both sides can go into their head-to-head qualifiers - played out over two legs at the same venue - with a degree of confidence.

The eighth ranked women will play in Dublin on November 2nd and 3rd at an as-yet to be revealed venue as they look to qualify for the Games for the first time.

Coach Sean Dancer was content with the draw, avoiding top-table stalwarts like Korea, Belgium and USA, but urged a cautious note in his reactions, especially after the Canadians won a challenge series in Dublin last summer.

"The way it is set-up is very cut-throat," he said. "It's going to be hard no matter who you play.

"Canada is a team that is progressing and that was evident when they beat USA. It's certainly a team on the rise who will present us with some issues which we need to make sure we are ready for."

The men's games, meanwhile, will take place a week earlier in West Vancouver on October 26 and 27.

Ireland will be the underdogs after a tricky year saw them relegated from the top level of European competition, dropping their ranking to 13th in the world.

Canada are tenth, meaning the Green Machine avoided far tougher opposition in Spain, Great Britain and New Zealand.

Irish skipper David Harte reckoned both sides will be happy enough with the outcome.

"It could be said that it is a more favourable draw than facing the likes of the European silver medallists. I'm sure Canada will have a similar feeling of getting Ireland in the draw so it will certainly make for a serious battle.

"They have been performing well and for any team to travel to Malaysia and win their FIH Hockey Series event, shows the ability that they have," said Harte.

Irish Independent

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