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Ireland's potential Olympic qualifier opponents confirmed ahead of draw

Both the men’s and women’s hockey teams will be in the pot on Monday week.

Ireland women will have home advantage in their two-legged qualifier.
Ireland women will have home advantage in their two-legged qualifier.
Image: Virginia Mayo

BOTH THE IRELAND men’s and women’s hockey teams will discover their opponents for the upcoming Olympic qualifiers when the draw for the two-legged ties take place on Monday 9 September.

The FIH Olympic qualifiers will each feature two nations playing back-to-back games for a place at Tokyo 2020, with teams drawn to play each other based on their world rankings. 

Ireland men, who are bidding to qualify for consecutive Olympics after reaching Rio in 2016, will be faced with an away tie as their world ranking is set to drop to 13th following a poor European Championships campaign.

Although they booked their place in the Olympic qualifiers by reaching the final of the FIH Series Finals in France earlier in the summer, the Green Machine suffered relegation from the top-tier of the European Championships last week.

It means Ireland — currently without a coach following Alexander Cox’s resignation — are in pot three for the draw and they will play away against a top-1o side, namely Germany, Great Britain, Spain, New Zealand or Canada.

As for the women, they will have home advantage as they bid to book their place at next summer’s Games.

Sean Dancer’s side, currently ranked eighth in the world, finished fifth at last week’s European Championships in Antwerp and will be hoping to continue on an upward curve following their World Cup silver medal last summer.

Ireland will be paired with one of Korea, Belgium, USA or Canada for the high-stakes two-legged qualifier, which will take place on either the last weekend in October or the first weekend in November. 

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A venue for the back-to-back games has yet to be confirmed by Hockey Ireland, while RTÉ intends to acquire the rights to show live coverage of the Green Army on the road to Tokyo 2020.

The draw will take place at the FIH headquarters in Lausanne from 1pm on Monday 9 September, and it will be live-streamed on Facebook. 

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Ryan Bailey

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