UCD hope to have new pitch installed in time to host Olympic qualifying
Hope is circulating that UCD will have a new astroturf pitch in place for the next phase of the Irish women’s Olympic qualifying process next June.
Ireland were given the hosting rights last month but an exact venue was not confirmed, leading to speculation about where it could be.
Belfield is the preferred option as it’s the only venue with a permanent stand and therefore is the least costly option in terms of the additional infrastructure that needs to be put in place to host a tournament of this stature.
The pitch does not meet the International Hockey Federation’s standards currently, losing its approved status a few years ago with remedial works not alleviating the problem.
Plans are afoot, however, to fully replace the turf early in the new year with the hope it will be ready in advance of the World Series Finals, an eight-team event from which two sides are assured of a direct Olympic qualifying tie.
Ireland will be top seeds for the event.
Previously, the venue at UCD was part-funded by Hockey Ireland and the university, affording the national body a certain amount of pitch-time throughout the year.
This time around, it looks like the university will fund the development on their own.
On the field, the students’ women’s EY Hockey League team host Railway Union with the hope that Abbie Russell and Hannah McLoughlin are coming closer to fitness.
League leaders Loreto welcome rising stars Belfast Harlequins to Three Rock Rovers in Grange Road with the tie forming part of the grand opening of the back pitch at the venue.
There will be a quartet of World Cup stars on display with Lizzie Colvin coming back to play her former club.
On the men’s side, it is quite a slim programme due to unavailable internationals.
Pembroke meet YMCA in the EYHL while Monkstown face Glenanne in the Irish Senior Cup second round.