Ireland Men's hockey team to compete in FIH Pro League
Hockey Ireland has accepted an invitation from the International Hockey Federation, FIH, for the Ireland Men’s Senior Squad to join the FIH Hockey Men’s Pro League next season.
Ireland finished runners-up to South Africa in the inaugural FIH Nations Cup tournament last November, losing a thrilling final 4-3. That meant South Africa gained promotion to the Pro League for 2023-2024 replacing the nation that will finish bottom at the end of the current season.
However, South Africa have decided not to take up their place and as runners-up in the Nations Cup Ireland have been invited by the FIH to replace them and have chosen to do so.
The 2023-2024 Pro League season will likely get under way in October and Ireland can expect games against the recently-crowned World champions Germany and Olympic gold medal winners Belgium as well as other hockey powerhouses such as Australia and India and, closer to home, Great Britain.
Before that Ireland will host Division 2 of the EuroHockey Championships in July at the National Sports Campus in Abbotstown, looking to claim a place in the Olympic Qualifying Tournaments for Paris 2024.
Hockey Ireland CEO Ronan Murphy said: "This announcement comes at a very exciting time for Irish Hockey, as we look to grow participation in the game and compete at the highest level on the international stage.
"The fact that our Senior Men are now competing in World Hockey's Pro League against eight top Hockey teams from around the world is a testament to all the hard work to date and is aligned with our High-Performance strategy and objectives”.
“As we continue our Olympic qualification campaign, we have a very busy year ahead with the EuroHockey Championships in Abbotstown in July offering a perfect opportunity for Irish Hockey fans to come along and watch the team in full international action.”
Mark Tumilty, Ireland Men’s Head Coach can’t wait to get started in the Pro League: “We are delighted this has come about. It’s a big opportunity for us and for men’s hockey in Ireland.
"It’s a massive challenge for us but I’ve said many times before that for Ireland to move forward in world hockey we need to be playing competitive games against the top nations. To have the chance now to play sixteen games against the top countries in the world will give our programme added purpose and focus.”
Hockey’s world governing body the FIH stated: “Whilst we will miss South Africa in the next season, we know that the South African Hockey Association firmly intends to join the FIH Hockey Pro League as soon as possible. Therefore, this is just a matter of time. Meanwhile, we’re absolutely delighted to welcome the Irish men’s team and we can’t wait to see them perform in the League next season.”