Ireland qualified for a first World Cup in 18 years last summer. Jan Kruger
The green machine

Ireland paired with reigning world champions and England in tough World Cup draw

The tournament takes place in India this November.

IRELAND’S FIRST MEN’S Hockey World Cup appearance since 1990 will see Craig Fulton’s side face Australia, England and China after the schedule for the tournament was confirmed today.

Ireland booked their place in the 16-team tournament — which will be staged in India in November and December — with victory over New Zealand last July and have been drawn in Pool B.

The Green Machine will open their campaign against world champions Australia on 30 November, before facing China on 4 December and England — ranked seventh in the world — on 7 December.

Ireland will also meet England at an upcoming tournament in Malaysia and the two teams are familiar foes, most recently going head-to-head at the European Championships in Amsterdam last August where England narrowly edged the encounter 2-1.

Prior to that, Ireland scored four goals against England to earn a historic European bronze medal in 2015.

“We are happy with our World Cup draw, it’s a competitive pool and we have played all the teams recently which is a positive,” Fulton said.

“There are three-day breaks between our pool matches which will take some getting used to with lots of down time as there are only two games a day on the schedule.”

The pool winners are guaranteed a berth in the quarter-finals, with the second and third place finishers in each pool needing to win a cross-over match in order to reach the last eight.

Rio 2016 Olympic Games - Day 2 - Hockey Ireland head coach Craig Fulton. Brendan Moran Brendan Moran

Ireland, who qualified for the Olympics in 2016 and are currently ranked 10th, will fancy their chances of progression, and will particularly target the second group game against China.

All games will be played at the 16,000 capacity seater Kalinga Stadium and BT Sport will carry live coverage of Ireland’s pool fixtures.

Ireland have also qualified for the 2018 Women’s World Cup, which takes place in London in July. Graham Shaw’s side are in Pool B alongside hosts England, USA and India.

Men’s Hockey World Cup draw:

Pool A: Argentina, New Zealand, Spain, France
Pool B: Australia, England, Ireland, China
Pool C: Belgium, India, Canada, South Africa
Pool D: Netherlands, Germany, Malaysia, Pakistan

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Wednesday’s sporting fixtures disrupted by heavy snowfall and adverse weather

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