Men and women to face world champs

The IHA today confirmed Ireland’s men will play in a Five Nations tournament featuring world number ones Australia as well as Korea (currently sixth in the world) as part of their European championships build-up.

It adds to as exciting a summer programme as any in recent years for both the men’s and women’s teams with more regular matches against higher quality opposition – both teams facing reigning world champions in the coming months.

Commenting on the programme, High Performance Director Dave Passmore said: “With the need to prepare our national teams fully despite the challenging economic times we are delighted with the schedule of matches and tournaments that our teams have.

“I have no doubt that these will best place both squads for the Europeans in August. Let’s hope the hockey public come out in force, home and away and get behind the great groups of players we have.”

Both teams will compete in their respective Celtic Cups prior to the combined ESB Electric Ireland FIH Champions Challenge I and UCD 4 Nations Event hosted in Belfield, launched officially on Monday night. The men then have a quick turnaround, heading to Paris for their own Champions Challenge event in Lille.

The most recent addition is an exciting trip back to France to play in a Five Nations which includes the world number one ranked team, Australia, Korea, Argentina as well as the French. They subsequently finish off their final preparation with a two match series against Argentina at UCD.

It’s a 20-game warm-up schedule which coach Paul Revington is looking forward to: “We enter a very busy and exciting three-month period with the prospect of tough opposition in every event.

“The summer will provide a great challenge to our players and the number of quality games will also test the strength of a larger squad of players whole will be used to meet the challenges head-on.”

On the women’s side, the CPP means they continue to operate off a reduced fixture list but have secured a visit from world champs Argentina in August like their male counterparts with the possibility of a Belfield public seeing the sparkling skills of Luciana Aymar who returned this week to the Las Leonas’ panel. They will be the last opponents before the Euros after Celtic Cup and Champs Challenge campaigns.

Speaking about the women’s summer, Gene Muller said: “After several months of hard technical, physical and tactical work we will soon be able to see the impact to date of the CPP on the development of the group. The players and staff are looking forward to the challenges ahead and pitting ourselves, at home against so many quality teams.”

Men’s Programme:
Celtic Cup, Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, Wales
June 17:
Ireland v Scotland, 4pm; June 18: Ireland v France; June 19: Ireland vs Wales, 1.15pm
UCD Men s 4 Nations II, Belfield (June 20-25)
June 20:
Ireland vs China, 8pm; June 22: Ireland vs France, 8pm; June 24: Ireland vs Pakistan; June 25: Playoff fixture, 6/8pm
FIH Men’s Champions Challenge II, Lille, France
July 2:
Ireland v Scotland, 3pm; July 3: Ireland vs France, 5pm; July 5: Ireland vs Russia, 3pm; July 7-10: classification matches
INSEP 5 Nations, Paris, France (July 26-30):
July 26:
Ireland vs Korea, 3.30pm; July 27: Ireland vs Australia, 4pm; July 29: Ireland vs Argentina, 4pm; July 30: Ireland vs France, 5.40pm
Friendly series, Belfield (August 6-7)
August 6: Ireland v Argentina, 3pm; August 7: Ireland v Argentina, 3pm
European Nations Cup, Monchengladbach, Germany (August 20-28)
August 21:
Ireland v England, 10am; Aug 22: Ireland v France, 1pm; Aug 24: Ireland v Netherlands, 6pm; Aug 26-28: classification matches

Women’s Programme:
Women’s Celtic Cup Largs, Scotland, (June 3-5)
June 4:
Ireland v Wales, 2pm; June 5: Ireland v Scotland, 2pm
International friendly, June 6: Ireland vs Scotland, 1pm, Largs
ESB Electric Ireland Champions Challenge I, UCD, Dublin (June 18-26)
June 18:
Ireland v India, 3pm; June 19: Ireland v Azerbaijan, 3.30pm; June 21: Ireland v Spain, 6.30pm; June 23-26: classification matches
International friendly series (August 12-14)
Aug 12:
Ireland v Argentina, 6pm; Aug 14: Ireland v Argentina, 6pm
European Nations Cup, Monchengladbach, Germany (August 20-28)
Aug 20:
Ireland v Germany, 6pm; Aug 21: Ireland v Belgium, 8pm; Aug 23: Ireland v England, 1pm; Aug 25-27: Classification matches

Youth fixtures
U-18 Boys and Girls European Youth Championships, Utrecht, Netherlands (July 12-17)
July 12: Ireland girls v Netherlands, 4.05pm; Ireland boys v Netherlands, 6.05pm; July 13: Ireland girls v Scotland, 4pm; Ireland boys v Russia, 6pm; July 14: Ireland boys v Germany, 4pm; Ireland girls v Belgium, 6pm; July 16-17: Classification matches
U-16 Boys Tri-Nations Tournament, INSEP, Paris (July 4-7)
U-16 Girls, Netherlands/Germany tour (August 18-21)

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