UCD take on German giants Koln in Bilthoven

UCD face probably their most illustrious opposition in their competitive hockey history when they take on KTHC Rot-Weiss Köln in Bilthoven, the Netherlands on Good Friday in the quarter-finals of the EuroHockey Club Champions Cup.

It is just the second time an Irish club has played in the top tier of the rejuvenated format of the competition, following Railway Union a year ago.

The Park Avenue outfit found themselves on the sharp end of a 7-0 loss to subsequent Hoofdklasse champions Den Bosch in the quarter-finals but rallied well to draw with Germany’s Berliner HC, losing in a shoot-out, before beating Azerbaijan’s Atasport 5-2 to finish seventh.

The UCD team that will play Rot Weiss Koln on Good Friday.

The UCD team that will play Rot Weiss Koln on Good Friday.

That seventh place finish, allied to Loreto’s third place finish in the second tier in Loughborough, meant that Ireland retain a place in the top tier.

And UCD will hope to potentially match them as coach Jonathan Harte told the tournament website.

“In 2013 we won the European club championships in Sicily and we are very excited to play European hockey once again.

“Throughout this season we have been focusing towards the EHCCC 2015 in Holland. Last season, our local rivals Railway Union were the first Irish club team to compete in the EHCCC and we are delighted to follow in their footsteps.

“As a squad we have been training hard to give ourselves the best opportunity to represent Ireland on the European stage. We are ranked 7th out of the eight teams competing but hope to finish the tournament above this ranking.

“The structure of the tournament gives us every chance of reaching a semi final and after that it’s anyones for the taking.”

They have plenty of tools in their armoury to make an impact with five of Ireland’s World League Round 2 panel going at full pelt allied to their other internationals Emily Beatty and Deirdre Duke.

Win against Rot Weiss and they could meet hosts SCHC or England’s Canterbury while a loss would put them into the fifth to eighth place playoffs.

The German champions will pose a big task with some quality players in their number including Hannah Gablac who, while still Under-18 two years ago, played for her side’s senior national team in the 2013 European championships winning side.

Lea Stockel, Franziska Hauke and Marion Rodewald are others with top level experience.

EuroHockey Club Champions Cup (all at SCHC, Bilthoven)
Friday (quarter-finals):
Surbiton (ENG) vs Club de Campo (ESP), 10.30am; Rot Weiss Koln (GER) vs UCD (IRL), 12.45pm; Den Bosch (NED) vs CSP Izmailovo (RUS), 3pm; Canterbury (ENG) vs SCHC (NED)
Saturday: semi-finals
Sunday: fifth-eighth play-offs
Monday: final, bronze match, classification matches

** To find out more about the competition, click here

Partners of The Hook