The National Sports Campus in Abbotstown is set to become the new training centre for the Irish senior hockey teams following news a new water-based hockey pitch will be laid there.
Sport Ireland has commenced the replacement of the current sand-based hockey pitch on the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus with a new Polytan Polygras Toyko GT surface. This is the same surface that will be used at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and the 2022 World Cup.
It is expected that the new facility will be complete and ready for use in April 2019 at a cost of €600,000.
At this stage, the likelihood is it will be primarily a training base with UCD – as reported last month in the Irish Independent – the probable venue to host the Hockey Series Finals should they complete their pitch refurbishments in time. Work is set to begin on the pitch in the new year.
Speaking at the announcement today, which was attended by members of the Irish men’s and women’s teams, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross TD, said: “This is a very welcome and timely development for the sport of hockey. This new world-class facility at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus will be of massive benefit to the preparation of not just our senior national teams, but also our up and coming players who will no doubt have been inspired by the recent performances of our women’s and men’s teams.
“This new hockey pitch is another welcome step in the development of the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus as the home of Irish sport and together with the excellent facilities already in place and those planned for the next few years, will support more and more Irish sportspersons in their training and preparation for international competition.”
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Chairman of Sport Ireland, Kieran Mulvey, commented: “The women’s team captured the imagination of the country with their exploits in the World Cup in August; while the men’s team have gone on to represent Ireland with pride in the World Cup this year following their qualification for the Olympic Games in 2016.
“The Board of Sport Ireland is keen to see the sport of hockey continue to rise in Ireland which is why we have approved the replacement of the hockey pitch. This development makes a clear statement that the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus is the home of high performance hockey in Ireland.”
The new pitch will be constructed by Sport Ireland with day-to-day management of the facility becoming the responsibility of the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus operations company.
Chairman of Sport Ireland’s National Sports Campus Committee, Patrick O’Connor, said: “This development of this new pitch alleviates the need for Irish teams to travel abroad to train, giving them access to the latest in pitch technology here in Ireland.
“This will further reduce hockey’s reliance on club-based facilities for training, which are not always readily available, and will make the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus an attractive proposition to travelling teams ahead of the Tokyo Games.”
The next major event on the agenda for the Irish women’s team is the Hockey Series Final, which takes place in Ireland in June 2019, with the men’s equivalent taking place in France in the same month.
Both the men and women will compete at the Euro Hockey Championships next August 16-25 2019 in Antwerp, Belgium.
Chief Executive of Hockey Ireland, Jerome Pels, said: “As we build on the success of the women’s silver World Cup medal this summer, this is a crucial development in our ability to support the high-performance teams.
“The Tokyo specification hockey pitch at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus is an important part of our high-performance plan. We believe there are great benefits of being within the performance environment at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus and having a direct connection with the other facilities such as the Sport Ireland Institute.”