9 February 2024

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European Indoor Hockey Championships under way in Galway

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European Indoor Hockey Championships under way in Galway

Galway welcomes the women’s EuroHockey Indoor Championship II with international hockey of this kind visiting the city in the west of Ireland for the first time. Six teams will be in situ for the event which will be played on around-robin basis with the top two nations earning promotion to the top tier of indoor on the continent. The hosts are the highest-ranked nation at 23rd on the world list but they will face tough competition with Slovakia (24th), Portugal (25th), Lithuania (27th) Croatia (29th) and Sweden (39th) all potential threats.

The EuroHockey Indoor Championship II A starts today (Friday, February 9th) and will finish up on Sunday, February 11th. Fresh from their Nkosi Cup experience in December Ireland go into this tournament well-prepared. This is the first time for Ireland to host a European Indoor Championship and the first major international Hockey tournament of any kind to be held in Connacht. The participating nations are Ireland, Croatia, Lithuania, Portugal, Slovakia and Sweden.

Each team will have two games each on the opening two days and a final pool game early on Sunday. The rest of Sunday will decide the placings in the tournament. Friday will be the first day of action. The tournament gets underway at the Kingfisher Centre in Galway at 10:30 a.m. when Slovakia take on Croatia. Ireland’s first game is at 1:00 p.m. when the hosts take on Sweden. Slovakia take on Lithuania in their second game of the day at 4 p.m. Sweden take on Portugal and Ireland’s final game is at 6.30 p.m. against Croatia.

Saturday sees Sweden take on Slovakia at 10:30 a.m. Lithuania take on Croatia at 11:45 a.m. and Portugal plays Ireland at 1 p.m. Lithuania play Sweden in their second game of the day at 4 p.m. Croatia face Portugal at 4.15 and Ireland take on Slovakia at 6.30 p.m.

On Sunday each team plays their fifth pool game of this tournament. At 9 a.m. Croatia take on Sweden at 10:15 a.m. Portugal and Slovakia will play their final pool match and Ireland and Lithuania round off the pool stage entirely at 11:30 a.m.

Ireland (World Ranking: 23)

EuroHockey appearances: 6

Best result: Championship II – 4th place (1987)

The hosts have developed an experienced group in recent years since returning to international indoor in 2020 following a break of 30 years. In addition to their gold run in Championship III in Bratislava four years ago, they got sixth in Championship II in 2022 and they have amassed a lot of time on the boards via series against South Africa at home and abroad. Chloe Brown is one of the stars on show – she was recently named the best player at the English finals in Derby, captaining East Grinstead to the national championship. Orla Fox has been close to an ever-present with 34 caps to her name with Railway Union club mate Orla Patton one behind her; younger sister Sarah Patton is an aggressive player on the counter. At the other end of the spectrum, 17-year-old Milla Fulton is playing her first ranking tournament having debuted at the Nkosi Cup. She is the daughter of current India coach Craig and Irish indoor assistant coach Natalie; both were Olympians with South Africa. Mikayla Power – daughter of Olympic umpire Carol Metchette – is another teenager included; both Power and Fulton played for the Irish Under-18 outdoor side last summer. Six of the side played in the 2022 Euros. In 2020, they won 5-0 against Portugal and 4-3 against Slovakia in their only recent head-to-head matches since coming back to the indoor stage.

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