Both Ireland Senior Men’s and Senior Women’s Hockey teams to compete in Spain in January’s Olympic Qualifiers.
Following the conclusion of Hockey at the Pan American Games and the African Hockey Road to Paris 2024, 5 men’s and women’s teams have now gained direct qualification to the Olympic Games Paris 2024 as Continental Champions, in addition to the hosts France.
A further 16 men’s and women’s teams have simultaneously secured their place at the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers 2024, so the pools for these qualification tournaments have just this morning been revealed.
The 16 teams per gender have been divided into two groups, with 8 teams traveling to each location: Muscat, Oman and Valencia, Spain for the men, and Ranchi, India, and Valencia, Spain for the women.
The 8 men’s teams that will compete in Muscat, Oman are: Great Britain, Germany, New Zealand, Malaysia, Pakistan, Canada, Chile and China
The 8 men’s teams that will compete in Valencia, Spain are: Belgium, Spain, Korea, Ireland, Japan, Austria, Egypt and Ukraine
Ireland are ranked 13th in the current FIH Men’s World Rankings .To give an idea of the size of the task ahead of the Ireland Men’s squad here are the rankings of the other teams in our group.
Belgium are ranked 2nd , Spain are ranked 8th, Korea are ranked 10th, Japan are ranked 15th , Austria are ranked 19th , Egypt are ranked 20th , Ukraine are ranked 29th. On the basis of current rankings Ireland would be the fourth seeds in their Olympic qualification group. And only the top three in this Olympic Qualification Group in Valencia will go to the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
Speaking after the qualification pools were revealed , Ireland Men’s National Team Head Coach Mark Tumilty said:
“The eight teams in Valencia and Muscat are further sub-divided into two pools of four. In order to qualify for the Olympics you have to finish top two in your group and then either make the final or win the third place match as only three teams make the games.”
“In Valencia, we have been drawn in a pool with Japan, Belgium and Ukraine. Belgium are the top seeds and are likely to win the group. The game against them is something of a free shot. If we get a positive result there that’s a bonus.”
“The games against Japan and Ukraine are must win games to reach the semi-final. If you win the semi you are automatically in Paris in the summer. But if you lose your semi-final you can still reach the Olympics by winning the 3rd place play off.”
“We need to be realistic looking overall Belgium and Spain are head and shoulders above the rest of the teams playing in Valencia. But any of the rest of the teams would fancy their chances of getting the third spot.”
“It’s important to get off to a good start. And if we can get a semi-final berth we can give ourselves a realistic opportunity of reaching the Olympics.”
The 8 women’s teams that will compete in Ranchi, India are: Germany, India, New Zealand, Japan, Chile, United States, Italy and Czech Republic
The 8 women’s teams that will compete Valencia, Spain are: Belgium, Great Britain, Spain, Korea, Ireland, Canada, Malaysia and Ukraine.
Ireland are ranked 13th in the current FIH Women’s World Rankings . To give an idea of the size of the task ahead of the Ireland Women’s squad here are the rankings of the other teams in our group.
Belgium are ranked 4th , Great Britain (because of England’s ranking) are ranked 7th, Spain are ranked 8th, Korea are ranked 12th, Canada are ranked 16th, Malaysia are ranked18th and Ukraine are ranked 28th. Ireland would be fifth seeds in their Olympic qualification group. And only the top three in this Olympic Qualification Group in Valencia will go to the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
Speaking after the qualification pools were revealed , Ireland Women’s National Team Head Coach Sean Dancer said:
“We know after the release this morning that we are heading to Spain. We have been there over the years for warm weather training so are very familiar with the venue. Going to India would have been a bit more of a journey into the unknown so at least we have the familiarity of the venue.”
“I am really pleased with where the program is in the last few months, in terms of facilities, staff and the players being available to train full time three days a week. 2024 could be a really big year for us. With Olympic Qualification, followed up with a Nations Cup tournament in June, the winners of which would qualify for the FIH Pro League. We certainly have ambitions of getting higher than 13th in the World Rankings and Olympic Qualification would help achieve that “.
Ireland International Elena Neill said:
“We’re very familiar with Valencia, having been there many times before for warm weather training. A lot of blood, sweat and tears have been spilt on that pitch. Just to be heading somewhere we already know is cool.”
“To be honest when you try to qualify for the Olympics you are always up against it. We know the teams we will be facing, their quality and that it will be difficult. Being semi-professional and being able to training at the Sport Ireland Campus Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday means we have everything we need to succeed.”
“We have done it before and having experienced that level of pressure previously helps. You are in a very privileged position to be trying to qualify for an Olympic Games representing your country.”
The men’s and women’s teams have been divided into the two groups on the basis of their world ranking at midnight on 5 November 2023, once all Continental Championships were completed (based on the predetermined rules mentioned in the FIH Qualification System for the Paris Olympics, which can be accessed here.)
* Further breakdown of the pools at each tournament.
The teams that finish in the top-3 of each of the four FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers 2024 tournaments will seal their qualification to the Olympic Games Paris 2024. The FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers 2024 will be played between 13-21 January 2024. Please visit Olympics.Hockey for more details about the qualifiers, as well as hockey at the Olympic Games Paris 2024.