Ards are bound for Prague next February while Three Rock Rovers will travel almost 4,000km east to Tbilisi in Georgia following the announcement of the EuroHockey Indoor club competitions for 2018.
For Ards, it will be a sixth successive European campaign as they look to keep building, having finished sixth two years ago in the Women’s Trophy and then fifth in February in Lithuania this year since their promotion in 2015.
In 2018 – barring withdrawals – they are in a four-team group with hosts SK Slavia Prague, relegated from the the top tier, Croatia’s HAHK Mladost – promoted from the third tier – and Lithuania’s Gintra Strekte who beat Ards 8-2 last time around.
The other pool features Belgium’s Royal White Star, England’s Slough, France’s Stade Francais and Russia’s Dinamo Elektrostal.
For Three Rock, it will be their first European indoor campaign since 2013 in Budapest and the second time they will play in the fourth tier of European competition.
Railway Union’s second place finish in February in Turkey would usually have earned a promotion but the reduced entry list in their competition meant only one nation was moved up.
As such, Rovers will have a long trip to the Caucusus as Georgia hosts its first European competition. Indeed, the trip is 3,956km from Dublin to Tbilisi, outdoing the 3,760km they travelled to Malatya in eastern Turkey.
Their group phase features Norwegian, Armenian and Serbian opponents while the other pool features Bulgarian, Lithuanian and Finnish teams as well as the Georgian hosts.
Women’s Trophy – Prague (CZE) – 23-25 February 2018
|Pool A||Pool B|
|SK Slavia Prague (CZE)||Royal White Star HC (BEL)|
|HC Gintra Strekte Uni (LTU)||Slough HC (ENG)|
|Ards Ladies HC (IRL)||Stade Francais (FRA)|
|HAHK Mladost (CRO)||Dinamo Elektrostal (RUS)|
Men’s Challenge II – Tbilisi (GEO) – 16-18 February 2018
|Pool A||Pool B|
|RHC Lokomotiv 1929 (BUL)||Three Rock Rovers (IRL)|
|Tbilisi Club (GEO)||Kringsjå Sports Klubb (NOR)|
|Klevas – Siauliai (LTU)||Hrazdan HC (ARM)|
|HC Kilppari (FIN)||HK Elektrovojvodina (SRB)|