EUROHOCKEY INDOOR CHAMPIONSHIP II-A, WOMEN
Galway welcomes the women’s EuroHockey Indoor Championship II with international hockey of this kind visiting the city in the west of Ireland for the first time.
Six teams will be in situ for the event which will be played on around-robin basis with the top two nations earning promotion to the top tier of indoor on the continent.
The hosts are the highest ranked nation at 23rd on the world list but they will face tough competition with Slovakia (24th),Portugal (25th), Lithuania (27th) Croatia (29th)and Sweden (39th) all potential threats. Find out a little bit more about each team below.
The EuroHockey Indoor Championship II A takes place in Galway beginning tomorrow Friday February 9 and will finish up on Sunday February 11.Fresh from their Nkosi Cup experience in December Ireland go into this tournament well prepared. This is the first time for Ireland to host a European Indoor Championship and the first major international Hockey tournament of any kind to be held in Connacht.
The participating nations are Ireland, Croatia, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovakia and Sweden.
Each team will have two games each on the opening two days and a final pool game early on Sunday. The rest of Sunday will be decide placings in the tournament.
Friday will be the first day of action. The tournament gets underway at the Kingfisher Centre in Galway at 10:30 a.m. when Slovakia take on Croatia. Ireland’s first game is at 1:00 p.m. when the hosts take on Sweden. Slovakia take on Lithuania in their second game of the day at 4p.m. Sweden take on Portugal and Ireland’s final game is at 6.30 p.m. against Croatia.
Saturday sees Sweden take on Slovakia at 10:30 a.m. Lithuania take on Croatia at 11:45 a.m. and Portugal plays Ireland at 1 p.m. Lithuania play Sweden in their second game of the day at 4 p.m. Croatia face Portugal at 4.15 and Ireland take on Slovakia at 6.30 p.m.
On Sunday each team plays their fifth pool game of this tournament. At 9 a.m. Croatia take on Sweden at 10:15 a.m. Portugal and Slovakia will play their final pool match and Ireland and Lithuania round off the pool stage entirely at 11:30 a.m.
Supporting Information for the EuroHockey Indoor Championship II Women (Galway, February 9-112024)
Croatia (World Ranking: 29)
EuroHockey appearances: 8
Best result: Championship II – 4th place (2018)
Croatia arrive in Ireland with a line-up which has many as six players playing for the first time in this age category. They are also for the first time led by a new head coach Tin Matković (coach at Berliner SC) who accepted the invitation from his home federation to try to introduce something new to the national selection.
Due to the lack of free time, finances and halls, the side were unable to achieve plan A in terms of preparation. Nonetheless, they did put together quality time in both Croatia and Germany in recent times.
“We arrive in Galway to learn and prepare for the future because we are not favourites for the first three places,” said head coach Matković.
Ireland (World Ranking: 23)
EuroHockey appearances: 6
Best result: Championship II – 4th place (1987)
The hosts have developed an experienced group in recent years since returning to international indoor in 2020 following a break of 30 years. In addition to their gold run in Championship III in Bratislava four years ago, they got sixth in Championship II in 2022 and they have amassed a lot of time on the boards via series against South Africa at home and abroad.
Chloe Brown is one of the stars on show – she was recently named the best player at the English finals in Derby, captaining East Grinstead to the national championship.
Orla Fox has been close to an ever-present with 34 caps to her name with Railway Union club mate Orla Patton one behind her; younger sister Sarah Patton is an aggressive player on the counter.
At the other end of the spectrum, 17-year-old Milla Fulton is playing her first ranking tournament having debuted at the Nkosi Cup. She is the daughter of current India coach Craig and Irish indoor assistant coach Natalie; both were Olympians with South Africa.
Mikayla Power – daughter of Olympic umpire Carol Metchette – is another teenager included; both Power and Fulton played for the Irish Under-18outdoor side last summer.
Six of the side played in the 2022 Euros. In 2020, they won 5-0against Portugal and 4-3 against Slovakia in their only recent head-to-head matches since coming back to the indoor stage.
Portugal (World Ranking: 25)
EuroHockey appearances: 9
Best result: Championship II – 7th place (2004,2008)
Portugal will play in the second tier for the fifth time, returning to this level having finished third in Championship III in 2022.
The national federation are focused on developing women’s sport and that is reflected in young nature of their panel with five of the 12outfield players named in their wider panel being teenagers.
“The Portuguese national women’s team is very young and talented, so we believe that this European Championship will be a time for them to grow as players,” says coach João Freitas. “We are sure that they will represent our country with passion and determination.”
This weekend will see them face Croatia and Sweden for the first time since 2014 while they played Slovakia twice in 2022, losing 3-2 and drawing 4-4 in two highly competitive fixtures.
Lithuania (World Ranking: 27)
EuroHockey appearances: 16
Best result: Championship I – 2nd place (2002)
Lithuania are back with a new look panel having missed the 2022EuroHockey Indoor Championship. Prior to that, they have a proud history, highlighted by their silver medal in 2002 Championship in Les Ponts, France.
This year, they have a very young team with only four players having earned international caps before. Donata Grigiene (36) and Dovile Kukliene (37) provide the major experience with Dovila Juarite and Viktorija Bogdanova both having experienced this stage before.
Otherwise, the panel is all Under-21 and making their tournament debuts. In terms of previous meetings, they did play Slovakia in 2014 (11-0win), Croatia in 2020 (3-0 win) and Sweden (4-2 loss in 2018) so it will be interesting how they have evolved in the meantime.
Slovakia (World Ranking: 24)
EuroHockey appearances: 14
Best result: Championship I – 5th place (1996,1998, 2000)
Slovakia are keen to build on top four outcomes in each of the last three editions of Championship III and the central European outfit stands ready to make a mark in the upcoming tournament.
Their diverse line-up includes Dominika Chebenová is the pillar of experience with a remarkable 20-year history of international tournaments, bringing invaluable knowledge and understanding.
Goalkeeper Daniela Šutovská is not only a guardian of the net but a real-life lifesaver as a medical professional, balancing the responsibilities of hockey and a demanding profession. Her commitment to both fields exemplifies the resilience and dedication of the team.
Natalia Fondrková brings a global perspective; she lived and played in the Netherlands last year to immerse herself in the culture of hockey and gain international experience.
Now, she is channeling her passion into a start-up named Sport qo, focusing on sports accessibility across Europe and Slovakia. Natalia is not just playing for her team but also working on development of the sport in general.
Karolina Vyskočová, meanwhile, is a young dynamo who Is developing her game in Germany.
Her presence adds a youthful exuberance and promises a bright future for Slovakia.
While the team holds tremendous potential, the current challenge lies in the infrastructure for the field hockey in Slovakia.
“As the tournament approaches, the Slovakia women’s field hockey team embodies the spirit of diversity, resilience, and excellence,” says coach Richard Garaj.
“Their stories extend beyond the pitch, painting a portrait of determination, camaraderie, and a shared dream of bringing glory to Slovakian field hockey. Watch out for this team.”
Sweden (World Ranking: 39)
EuroHockey appearances: 10
Best result: Championship II – 5th place (1996)
Sweden is a small hockey country with indoor being the main variant played. This will be their first entry since 2018 in Brussels in Championship II and they have a team with various levels of experience; some of the player have played in the Euro Championships before, while others are completely new to this type of tournament.
Over winter, they had training camps throughout and finished by playing the Danish tournament Mason Cup.
“We are eagerly looking forward to the tournament and the opportunity to play indoor hockey on the European scene,” says head coach Felix Hörnschmeyer.
“We are confident that we have the right team and staff for the task. We hope that our hard work during preparation will be rewarded.”
During their games, you can often hear the side speaking at least four different languages. They have girls who play in the English, German, Dutch, and, of course, Swedish competitions while the age range is from 18 to48 years old.
** You can follow all the scores and match data via the following link: https://fih.altiusrt.com/competitions/1552
** The tournament is not bring live-streamed.