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Rovers face tough Euro group challenge

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In the women's league, Pegasus host Railway Union while Loreto face Pembroke. Photo: Sportsfile

In the women's league, Pegasus host Railway Union while Loreto face Pembroke. Photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

In the women's league, Pegasus host Railway Union while Loreto face Pembroke. Photo: Sportsfile

Three Rock Rovers will today become the first Irish side since 1996 to contest the second tier of the men's EuroHockey Indoor Club Championships in Turkey.

They face English champions East Grinstead before going on to face Croatia's HK Zelina later. Their group stages end tomorrow against Dutch side SCHC.

Waiting on the other side of the draw are French, Swiss, Portuguese and Turkish opponents.

For Liam Canning's side, it is a whole new realm following back-to-back promotions, winning the D division in 2018 before a last-minute goal earned them second place in the C tier in 2019 in Oslo.

In that context, it makes staying up very much the target, a big ask for the lowest-ranked side on paper.

It will be the club's second Euro campaign in Turkey, the last an infamous affair back in 2012.

Rovers' kit was initially misplaced by local baggage handlers, leaving Rovers to borrow kit from rivals.

It left their 12-player panel with only six full-length sticks and one child-size one for their opening game, while goalkeeper Stephen West wore a Finnish helmet along with Bulgarian kickers and leg-guards held together by tape.

It means their EY Hockey League tie is pushed back to February 23. Meanwhile, the key men's tie is on Sunday between Banbridge and Monkstown at Havelock Park.

In the women's league, Pegasus host Railway Union while Loreto face Pembroke.

Irish Independent