Ireland’s women have been handed a tough group in the FIH Champions Challenge I as they face South Africa (world ranked 11), USA (10) and Spain (14) in the tournament being staged at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre, Scotland from April 27 to May 4.Hosts Scotland feature in Pool A alongside Korea (8), Belgium (12) and India (13) in a competition which sees all eight teams will progress to a quarter-final stage following the round-robin pool format, before contesting classification matches, including semi-finals and final.
The winners of the FIH Champions Challenge I will progress to the women’s FIH Champions Trophy in 2015. Ireland are the second lowest ranked side in the competition but produced a strong performance in the 2012 edition in Dublin, picking up third place with wins over Belgium, South Africa and, dramatically, Scotland on penalties
Australia gained promotion from that competition and are replaced by Korea who were relegated from the Champions Trophy. Wales are replaced by Spain who did not compete last time due to financial issues.
The tournament will be run in conjunction with a men’s four nations competition at the venue for next year’s Commonwealth Games with Belgium and England confirmed already to play.
Darren Smith recently named a 27-strong panel to travel to Spain in January as preparations for this event and the return of the World League begin in earnest.
Champions Challenge I fixture schedule (all in Glasgow)
Sunday, April 27: Ireland vs South Africa, 12pm
Monday, April 28: Ireland vs Spain, 4pm
Wednesday, April 30: Ireland vs USA, 11.30am
Thursday, May 1: quarter-finals
Saturday, May 3: semi-finals; 5th-8th playoff games
Sunday, May 4: Classification matches