Three Rock Rovers were handed a favourable draw in the men’s Euro Hockey League as they bid to become the first Irish club to win a knock-out game in the competition.
They missed the sides from the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Spain for the KO16 game next October and will play Scotland’s Grange in Barcelona.
“Look we may have avoided a “big gun” but with the restructuring of the EHL going straight into the KO16 there is no easy game!” Jody Hosking said.
“Grange have EHL experience and to win the EuroHockey Trophy in 2018 is an incredible achievement. We have played them before, I’d be interested to see how many players from both teams are still playing, because it can’t be that many!
“Either way, we will be training as hard as possible expecting a really tough and close game and it should be exciting. We are looking forward to it!”
Win and they will face the victors between Royal Beerschot and 2017 champions Rot-Weiss Koln. Rovers will have to cope without the services of Jamie Carr, Luke Madeley and Daragh Walsh who have all taken up professional contracts in Belgium with KHC Leuven.
Some or all of that trio could be in the mix for the return of the Irish men’s international indoor team who had their place confirmed in the 2020 European Championship III.
Ireland had been on a reserve list for the men’s competition but the withdrawal of Bulgaria, Georgia and Cyprus has opened the door for them to take part for the first time since the 1980s.
The tournament will take place in Santander next January with Spain, Slovenia, Scotland and Wales the opponents.
Ireland’s women are bound for Bratislava where Slovakia, Slovenia, Portugal, Spain and Denmark are the other sides taking part.
Katie Mullan has become the latest Irish women’s international to go back to her roots as the Green Army skipper will take up a player-coach role with Ballymoney this season.
Mullan was part of the Club an der Alster side that won the German championship last season and there was an offer on the table to extend her time in Hamburg.
Mullan will not be available to line out on the field for Money until after the qualifiers are complete, however, with international test matches planned for September and October.
She will work alongside Richard Fairman and Luke Witherow and said of the decision to rejoin her schoolgirl club: “The club has always shown me unwavering support so this is a brilliant opportunity for me to give back to my home club. Whilst there is a wealth of experience in this team I hope to share some of my game knowledge with this team.”
Anna O’Flanagan is another to have returned from abroad and she has taken up a player-assistant coach role with Muckross having gone to school at Muckross Park.
Zoe Wilson – like Mullan – will be in a player-coach position at Randalstown where she learned the game, moving from Belfast Harlequins. Both are foregoing top tier hockey to play in the Ulster Premier League.
Men’s Indoor Championship III – Santander (ESP), Pabellón Deportivo de la Universidad de Cantabria – 17-19 January 2020
One Pool: Scotland/Wales/Slovenia/Spain/Ireland
Women’s Indoor Championship III – Bratislava (SVK), Dom športu Bratislava – 24-26 January 2020
One Pool: Slovakia/Slovenia/Portugal/Spain/Ireland/Denmark