Tuesday 19 March 2019

Venue for Olympic qualifying still up in the air

Hockey Ireland say they will make their final decision in the next 10 days as to how they will proceed (stock photo)
Hockey Ireland say they will make their final decision in the next 10 days as to how they will proceed (stock photo)

Hockey Ireland is remaining tight-lipped over the venue for the next leg of the Olympic qualifiers as both Belfield and Abbotstown face a race against time to host the FIH Series finals in June.

Dublin was confirmed as the host for the competition before Christmas in anticipation that UCD's Belfield would be renovated with time to spare to welcome the competition.

Work, however, has yet to begin there with the college clubs only stepping off the turf on Monday after their women play a double-header in the EYHL.

They were hoping to clear three of their home games this week but Wednesday's date with Muckross was abandoned in the second period - when UCD led 3-1 - due to fog.

The short timeframe, though, means the engineers currently cannot guarantee that the pitch will be ready for the June 8 date when Ireland will take on Malaysia in their opening game of the tournament.

Abbotstown has been mooted as the alternative venue with the current sand-based pitch due to be lifted on March 12 and replaced by an international-grade, water-based surface.

A watering system also has to be installed while there are no stands in situ. The venue, though, will likely need less work to be tournament-ready with much greater space to work with.

Three Rock Rovers' new back pitch was also considered but the requirement for space for broadcast facilities, a fan village and other extras mean it has been ruled out.

As such, Hockey Ireland say they will make their final decision in the next 10 days as to how they will proceed.

The tournament will run from June 8-16 with Ireland the top-ranked side.

In addition to Malaysia, they will play the Czech Republic and Singapore with top spot going into the semi-finals and second and third into the quarters.

Ireland need to get to the final to ensure a ticket to next October's Olympic qualifier showdowns.

Irish Independent

The Throw-In: Dublin's issues, Corofin's greatness and Waterford's quiet development

In association with Allianz

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport