Ireland’s rising stars are set to take part in the GB&I Nations Hockey Development Series which will run throughout July.
It offers an exciting, high level competition for developing male and female athletes who missed out on European Junior Age Grade competition in both 2020 and 2021.
It comes in the wake of Ireland’s decision – along with Scotland, England and Wales – to withdraw from the 2021 EuroHockey Under-18 Championships due to restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The new tournament will be designated a “development series” which will allow teams to involve a wider panel of players, therefore offering an excellent development opportunity for competing nations teams while also providing meaningful matches.
The competition will run over three weekends of double headers, starting on July 10 and 11. For Ireland, this means the boys and girls teams will each play Wales on Saturday, July 10 and Sunday, July 11 (match location to be confirmed).
Ireland head to Lilleshall for games against England on Friday, July 16 and Saturday, July 17 before returning home for ties against Scotland on Saturday, July 24 and Sunday, July 25.
Should the format prove successful, it is hoped it can be replicated in the future.
Speaking about the new initiative, Hockey Ireland Performance Director Adam Grainger said: “International Junior Age Grade player development is of paramount importance for Hockey Ireland as we transition between Olympic cycles, and the decision to withdraw from the EuroHockey Under-18 Championships has therefore not been easy.
“Working with our close hockey neighbours, Hockey Ireland has secured a beneficial development opportunity for our players that will help to restart their individual international hockey pathways.
“This development series, combined with ongoing programme activity for the U23 girls and the soon to be communicated U21 boys programme, will create windows of opportunity for players to showcase their potential.”