Tickets have gone on sale for the women’s crucial EuroHockey Championship qualifiers which will take place at the Sport Ireland Campus in Blanchardstown from August 18th to 21st.
Tickets can be purchased by the following link: https://bit.ly/EHCQ_Tkts
It will be the first capped games for the Green Army on home turf since the 2019 Olympic qualifiers in Donnybrook with Ireland coming up against the Czech Republic (World Ranked 23rd), Poland (27th) and Turkey (33rd).
The winner of the competition will qualify for the top tier of 2023’s European Championships which is, in turn, a vital stepping stone on the road to Paris 2024. The Euros in Monchengladbach offers the first direct qualification ticket to the Olympic Games.
In addition, the places in the Olympic qualifying tournaments will also be determined by performances at the 2023 Euros and so reaching the top table is crucial for Ireland.
As such, the Irish hosts this week are looking to put on a big show at the Sport Ireland Campus to progress their Olympic hopes in front of a buzzing home crowd.
Over 1,200 seats have been installed at the venue, augmented by a fan village and children’s skill zone to add to the atmosphere.
Sarah Hawkshaw grew up minutes away from the venue in Castleknock and says this kind of set-up is unimaginable from her youth days in the area. She got her first glimpse of the new additions this weekend and is excited by the prospect of walking out to a raucous audience.
“With the stands in place, it looks class and looks a different pitch altogether from the one we train on. I wish it could stay all year!” she said. “It sets the perfect scene for what will be a really tough tournament but one which, for our campaign to Paris, we absolutely must win.
“We would love to do it in front of lots of our fans who always give us a huge boost. The campus is such a good complex and is easy access for people coming down from the north and just off the M50.”
Coach Sean Dancer added about the venue: “What they have done with the stands, the structure above the dugouts and the people they have around the ground supporting it makes the environment enjoyable to come here and play hockey. Real credit to Sport Ireland and Hockey Ireland to get these facilities in place.
“The challenge would be to get this all the time because this group really want to be here. Walking out, it is a different kettle of fish. Credit to everyone because they have got it right and it would be amazing to have it here full-time. It can help Ireland get to the next level.”
His side will be hoping to finish their summer schedule on a high following their 11th place finish at the World Cup in Amsterdam in the summer. The nature of the opposition will be very different with Ireland taking on the eventual champions the Netherlands and fourth place finishers Germany in the group stages.
This time around, they are the highest ranked side at 13th in the world and so Hawkshaw says there is a very different dynamic.
“That’s where the pressure is,” the dashing midfielder adds. “It is on us to go out and do a job. They are the teams we have to control in these games, move the ball well, take our opportunities when they come around.
“A lot of sides ranked lower than us are defensively strong and have experience of doing a lot of defending. So we are definitely not expecting to walk the ball into the goal and it is an area we have to improve.”
Women’s EuroHockey Championship qualifiers (all at the Sport Ireland campus)
Czech Republic v Turkey, 5.15 pm
Ireland v Poland, 7.30 pm
Poland v Turkey, 10.45 am
Ireland v Czech Republic, 1 pm
Poland v Czech Republic, 10.45 am
Ireland v Turkey, 1 pm