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Coach Mark Tumilty relieved as Ireland men given hope by World Cup rethink


Mark Tumilty

Mark Tumilty

�INPHO/Bryan Keane

Katie Mullan (left)

Katie Mullan (left)


Mark Tumilty

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has given the green light for amendments to the method of qualifying for the next men's and women's World Cups.

Originally, the FIH had decreed that the top six finishers from this year's women's European Championship and the top seven from the corresponding men's event would progress

This would have ruled out Ireland's men at the first count in their quest for a second consecutive World Cup place.

That's because they were relegated from the top-flight Euros in 2019, meaning that they would be ranked no higher than ninth and therefore could not have qualified for the 2023 showpiece in India.

However, a European Hockey Federation (EHF) proposal, now given approval by the FIH, has thrown Mark Tumilty's team a lifeline.

The top five women's and men's teams from the Euros qualify for the World Cup with a further eight-team qualifying tournament based on the new rankings now introduced to determine the remaining places - one women's and two men's - to take place in October.

Therefore, Ireland's women will now have to finish in the top five in the top-tier Euros in Amsterdam in June to progress without recourse to the new tournament.

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That should be achievable after they finished fifth in the last Europeans in Antwerp in 2019.

Katie Mullan's side are up against the Netherlands, Spain and Scotland in the first phase as they continue their build-up to the Tokyo Olympics following an impressive drawn series against 2016 gold medallists GB last week.

"We will take the learnings from the three GB games, but it's now a matter of peaking at the Euros with World Cup qualification at stake, and, of course, Tokyo," said the Ireland captain.

Tumilty was understandably happy that the EHF proposal was accepted by the FIH after initially fearing that any hopes of a place at the January 2023 World Cup had been dashed.

The Ireland head coach said: "It is excellent news and gives the players and staff a real focus for the next eight months.

"It is a real boost for our senior players as many had felt they had lost the opportunity to potentially participate in another World Cup.

"We need to do our first job and make sure we finish in the top five in the B Division to guarantee participation in the qualifier.

"I think the EHF deserve credit for getting more European nations the opportunity to qualify for the World Cup.

"While a top-five finish is the key objective, we would also want to protect our world ranking (13th) as it will affect who we could play in the qualifiers."

Ireland go into the Polish tournament in August as second seeds and are up against the host nation, Croatia and Italy in the group stages before play-offs to determine final rankings.

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