The Road to Rio was outlined this week for both the Irish men and women with the confirmation of their respective schedules at the World League semi-finals this summer.
For the men, they are bound for Antwerp, Belgium from June 23 to July 5 to take part in a ten-team competition, divided into two groups of five.
Ireland in are in Pool B with the tournament hosts as well as Great Britain, Malaysia, Ireland and China while World Cup winners Australia, India, Pakistan, Poland and France are in the opposing pool.
On the women’s side, Darren Smith’s Ireland travel to Valencia from June 10 to 21. They are in Pool B with high flying USA – who moved from 10th to 5th in the latest world rankings – with Germany, South Africa and round two qualifiers Uruguay. Pool A includes Argentina, China, Great Britain, Spain and Canada.
After the initial group stage, the top four of the five teams in each group going through to the quarter-final stage with the fifth place teams eliminated.
After the quarters, each nation duly play off across semi-finals and classification matches to determine final positions.
In relation to earning one of the 12 Olympic qualification spots, as per most of the World League stipulations, there are a large amount of variables while Ireland may need to wait several months before finding out if their efforts are good enough to earn an Olympic ticket.
The top three from the two World League semi-finals will definitely qualify for Rio 2016.
Another place is dependent on whether hosts Brazil – whose men play Cookstown on April 2 – can hit targets set by the FIH to claim another berth. If they fail, that opens up another spot through the World League.
The other five spots for the Games come from the continental championships. However, if this nation is the same as one of the sides who have already qualified via the World League, the next best finisher at the World League semi-final will take up an Olympic place. Simple!
Effectively, it means a victory in the quarter-finals will all but guarantee qualification while anything below a top six finish means the dream is over.
Finishing fifth or sixth in the process will leave Ireland in limbo, waiting for results around the world. Using this qualification method for the 2014 World Cup, all fifth place finishers in the World League semi-finals ending up making the cut for the main event while one sixth place finisher on the men’s and women’s side – determined by world ranking – made it.
Women’s World League Round Two (June 10-21; Valencia, Spain)
Pool A: Argentina, China, Great Britain, Spain, Canada
Pool B: USA, Germany, South Africa, Ireland, Uruguay
Pool B fixtures
Wednesday, June 10: Ireland vs South Africa, 1pm; Germany vs Uruguay, 3pm
Thursday, June 11: USA vs Uruguay, 1pm; Ireland vs Germany, 3pm
Saturday, June 13: Ireland vs Uruguay, 1pm; South Africa vs USA, 3pm
Sunday, June 14: Uruguay vs South Africa, 1pm; Germany vs USA, 3pm
Tuesday, June 16: Great Britain vs China, 1pm; USA vs Ireland, 3pm
Thursday, June 18: Quarter-finals
Saturday, June 20: Semi-finals, classification matches
Sunday, June 21: Final, 3rd place playoff, classification matches
Men’s World League Round Two (June 20-July 5; Antwerp, Belgium)
Pool A: Australia, India, Pakistan, Poland, France
Pool B: Belgium, Great Britain, Malaysia, Ireland, China
Pool B fixtures
Tuesday, June 23: Great Britain vs Ireland, 12pm; Belgium vs China, 6pm
Thursday, June 25: Malaysia vs Ireland, 2pm; Great Britain vs China, 4pm
Friday, June 26: Ireland vs China, 2pm; Malaysia vs China, 6pm
Sunday, June 28: Malaysia vs Great Britain, 2pm; Belgium vs Ireland, 6pm
Wednesday, July 1: Quarter-finals
Friday, July 3: Semi-finals, classification matches
Sunday, July 5: Final, 3rd place playoff, classification matches
Olympic Games Qualification
1. The hosts (subject to the host satisfying FIH and IOC that it is of sufficient standard to play in the Olympic
2. The 5 Continental Champions;
3. The 6 (or 7 if the host does not satisfy the FIH and IOC that it is of sufficient standard to play in the Olympic
Games) highest placed National Associations in the Semi-Finals of the Hockey World League not qualified
under 1 and 2 above.
4. If the host is also the Continental Champion, the 7 highest placed National Associations in the Semi-Finals
of the Hockey World League not qualified under 1 and 2 above.
5. In the situation where the last place available is shared between National Associations that finish in the
same position in the two different Semi-Finals, the National Association to qualify for the Olympic Games
will be that which has the highest FIH World Ranking current at the time of the completion at the latter of
the two Semi-Finals.