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New event can help Irish climb ladder: Tumilty



Looking up: Ireland coach Mark Tumilty

Looking up: Ireland coach Mark Tumilty

�INPHO/Bryan Keane

Looking up: Ireland coach Mark Tumilty

Ireland men's hockey coach Mark Tumilty has a quiet few months ahead on the competitive front following the national team's agonising failure to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.

However, that will change in June when a series of internationals will be staged, and next year it will be even busier as Ireland take part in a new competition involving seven other nations.

The FIH Intercontinental Cup will be held in the first half of 2021 and is effectively the second tier of the Pro League, which is now in its second year and features nine of the world's top-ranked teams.

In year two of the new competition, the top finisher in what will be a round-robin event at one venue will secure promotion into the Pro League.

Entry into the Intercontinental Cup will be based on the world rankings, which will be updated after the conclusion of this year's Pro League, but, at 13th in the world, Ireland's place is assured.

Tumilty, who will continue in the post until the end of the year at least, will be doing all he can to make sure Ireland rise back up the rankings, and a number of games have been pencilled into the calendar for June.

"At this stage, we aren't sure exactly who we will play, but there are a number of options against teams who are preparing for Tokyo and some who didn't qualify," explained the head coach. "The Intercontinental Cup will provide us with a high standard of opposition and a chance to move back up the rankings, which is one of my aims."

Tumilty has also welcomed the fact that an underage interprovincial tournament has been reinstated onto the Irish calendar, with an Under-23 event taking place over four weekends in March.

"There is a lot of untapped talent out there and the interpros will give the players a chance to impress," added Tumilty, who starts his new post next month.

"I want to grow the base and provide exposure for players who can combine with the senior squad going forward, and we will have regional as well as national sessions."

Belfast Telegraph