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Ireland likely to be dealt tough away dates in Olympic quest

 

Ireland finished runners-up to France in the first stage of the 2020 qualifying process in Le Touquet last month which was enough to see them through to the final eliminator (stock photo)
Ireland finished runners-up to France in the first stage of the 2020 qualifying process in Le Touquet last month which was enough to see them through to the final eliminator (stock photo)

By John Flack

Ireland's men have preserved their 11th-place world ranking but it is unlikely to be enough to secure them a home Olympic qualifying double-header later this year.

Instead, they are almost certain to face a two-legged away contest with a higher-rated nation in late October or early November after a new set of rankings is confirmed in September following the completion of the various continental Championships.

If they win the qualifier then Ireland would book a place in a second consecutive Olympics, after playing in Rio three years ago.

Ireland finished runners-up to France in the first stage of the 2020 qualifying process in Le Touquet last month which was enough to see them through to the final eliminator.

It's likely they will face a trip to either Spain, New Zealand or Canada for the qualifiers, although there is a slim chance they could yet have home advantage.

But to keep alive their hopes of doing so, Ireland would need to finish runners-up in next month's European Championship in Antwerp to boost their ranking sufficiently, while a gold medal would see them qualify for Tokyo automatically.

However, neither scenario is likely to transpire as they are up against hockey powerhouses Netherlands and Germany along with Scotland in the group stages.

Meanwhile, Ireland's Under-16 and Under-18 boys completed a clean sweep of victories over Scotland at Jordanstown yesterday as they prepare for their respective Six Nations tournaments in Eindhoven later this month.

U18: Ireland 8 (E Jennings 2, J Greaney 2, R Spencer, S Wylie, O Kidd, T Chambers) Scotland 1.

U16: Ireland 2 (A Galbraith, P Rose) Scotland 1.

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