Seriously tough Euro Champs draw for Irish

The men have been pitted against reigning champions England along with world bronze medallists the Netherlands and perennial rivals France.

Indeed, England could yet feature former Ireland internationals Iain Lewers and Mark Gleghorne in this tournament as he becomes eligible in 2011 to join one of the Great Britain constituent countries.

They have both since been training with the English setup and moved from their respective clubs in Holland to play with Loughborough Students since the start of the 2010/11 season. In the other group, Germany, Spain, Belgium and Russia lock horns.

On the women’s side, Ireland will need to breach the top two of a group featuring Germany, England and Belgium to have a chance at automatic qualification for the Olympic Games. Holland, Azerbaijan, Spain and Italy make up what looks a much less demanding pool.

As mentioned on The Hook yesterday, places one to three in the men’s tournament will qualify for London while only the women’s finalists are assured a ticket for the 2012 Games.

This new allocation of places for the Games, though, is currently being contested by a number of European nations with the recent standard of four places from the Europeans proposed.

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