NICS’s Stormont ground has been named as the host venue for the Hockey World League Round 2 men’s event which runs from March 11-to 19, 2017.
The east Belfast venue got the nod ahead of Lisnagarvey’s Comber Road to host the event. It played host to the senior men’s Irish hockey team as they faced Canada in a pre-Olympic test series during the summer, whilst it has also held Cricket Ireland One Day International tests in recent years.
The event in Belfast will see hosts Ireland welcome men’s national teams from France, Poland, Ukraine, Italy, Wales, Scotland and Austria.
A top three finish for Ireland in the competition will see them advance to World League Round 3. If successful, Ireland are all but guaranteed of going to South Africa for that next phase where the World Cup spots will be doled out.
At this stage, the fixture schedule has yet to be confirmed but Irish officials Raymond Hughes (technical officer), Tom Goode (umpires manager) and Malcolm Coombes (umpire) have been appointed to the event as is Irish-based Bruce Bale though he is listed as a neutral umpire.
World League Round 2, itself, will be played over three men’s and three women’s events, with eight teams assigned to each destination by the FIH Competitions Committee.
The other men’s events will be played in Dhaka, Bangladesh and Tacarigua in Trinidad and Tobago.
The women’s events start in January with the Irish women in action from January 14-22 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The other groups are in Valencia, Spain and West Vancouver, Canada.