Irish hockey's Tokyo 2020 preparations boosted by new €600,000 pitch

The facility will be located at the National Sports Campus in Blanchardstown.

ON THE BACK of Ireland’s women’s World Cup silver medal, Hockey Ireland have today received a major boost with the news Sport Ireland will install a new state-of-the-art pitch on the National Sports Campus in Blanchardstown.

The new facility, which also follows the recent men’s Hockey World Cup in India, is expected to be ready for use in April 2019, and will come at a cost of €600,000.

Announcement Of New Pitch At Sport Ireland National Sports Campus Shane O'Donoghue, Deirdre Duke, Nikki Evans, Eugene Magee, Kirk Shimmins and Elena Tice at today's announcement. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

With the support of the Government, Sport Ireland will replace the current sand-based pitch on the campus, replacing it with a new Polytan Polygras Toyko GT surface, similar to the one which will be used at the 2020 Olympic Games.

Having been forced to train at club grounds and go on overseas training camps in recent times, the new facility is a timely fillip for both the men’s and women’s national teams as they begin their Tokyo qualifying campaign.

The new pitch will be constructed by Sport Ireland with the day-to-day management of the facility then becoming the responsibility of the National Sports Campus operations company.

Announcing the news, Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy said: “The sport of hockey has gone through a very successful period and Sport Ireland is keen to build on its support for the game here at all levels.

“The new pitch at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus will allow Ireland’s elite hockey players to practise on the same playing surface that will be used in the next Olympic Games, which will be a huge benefit to their qualification prospects and preparation for international competition.

“Locating the pitch here at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus will also allow players to avail of existing science, medicine and lifestyle support services through the Sport Ireland Institute.”

The support was welcomed by Hockey Ireland CEO Jerome Pels.

“Hockey Ireland would like to thank the Minister, the Government and Sport Ireland for their support,” he said.

“As we build on the success of the women’s silver World Cup medal this summer, this is a crucial development in our ability to support the high-performance teams. 

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Graham Shaw Graham Shaw's side begin their Olympic qualifying campaign in June. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“The Tokyo specification hockey pitch at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus is an important part of our high-performance plan.”

An announcement, meanwhile, on the development of the National Hockey Stadium’s pitch is expected next week, with the Belfield venue set to host the first phase of Ireland women’s Olympic qualifying process in June.

The pitch at UCD has not met International Hockey Federation standards for quite some time, and despite plans being in place to resurface it last summer, the project has not yet started.

But an update is expected to confirm work will commence early in 2019, with the hope it will be ready in time for the qualifying tournament.

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Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud

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Ryan Bailey

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