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'A huge step' as Ireland's Olympic qualifier confirmed for Donnybrook

The World Cup silver medallists will take on Canada at Energia Park this November.

Donnybrook has a capacity of 6,000.
Donnybrook has a capacity of 6,000.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

DONNYBROOK RUGBY STADIUM will host Ireland’s two-legged Olympic qualifier against Canada this Autumn, Hockey Ireland have confirmed.

As reported by The42 yesterday, Hockey Ireland had received the green light from Leinster Rugby to install a roll-out pitch at Energia Park for the back-to-back games against Canada on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 November.

Hockey Ireland will put in a Polytan Carpet pitch similar to what was done at the Twickenham Stoop recently for Great Britain’s FIH Pro League women’s and men’s matches against New Zealand in June.

UCD’s National Hockey Stadium and a new facility at Abbotstown were explored as other venue options, but the move to the 6,000-capacity Donnybrook is a major step forward for Irish hockey.

On the back of last year’s World Cup silver medal, interest levels around the women’s team have swelled and Hockey Ireland will hope for big attendances as Sean Dancer’s side bid to qualify for Tokyo 2020. 

“We’re excited to announce Energia Park in Donnybrook as the venue for the Women’s Olympic Qualifier matches against Canada this November,” Hockey Ireland CEO, Jerome Pels, said.

“This is a huge step for the sport in Ireland to play hockey in a venue of this size. 

“A lot of time and research has been dedicated to establishing whether the event could take place here. Similar to England Hockey’s successful use of an overlay carpet for their FIH Pro League matches at The Stoop in London earlier this year, we’re excited to bring this unique experience to Ireland. 

anna-oflanagan-celebrates-scoring-a-goal-with-deirdre-duke Ireland are bidding to qualify for their first Olympics. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

“We’d like to thank Leinster Rugby for accommodating us in Energia Park and look forward to bringing this event to fruition.”

Kevin Quinn, head of commercial at Leinster Rugby, added: “This is another hugely positive step for us in Leinster Rugby to showcase our ability to offer a facility like Energia Park to other governing bodies and organisations.

“To be able to host international sporting occasions in any code and at any level is something we take huge pride in and I know our two partners in Energia Park, Old Wesley and Bective Rangers, feel the same way.

“Hockey Ireland and ourselves share offices on the same campus up in UCD and it is brilliant that we can now share a home stadium together for these two games and we can’t wait to host them, and to fill out Energia Park, in November.”

Tickets for the games, which are set to be broadcast live on RTÉ, will go on sale in the coming weeks.

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Ryan Bailey

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