Ireland bailout: Hockey fans raise over 23,000 euros to send team to Argentina – and counting

[img_assist|nid=6262|title=Get behind the Green Machine|desc=An IHA poster urged fans to back the team’s Olympic qualifying efforts. Now supporters have taken the message to heart and dug into their own pockets to help send the team to the Champions Challenge.|link=node|align=right|width=220|height=312]DUBILN, October 7 – A player and fan backlash has thrown the Ireland’s men’s hockey team a lifeline and forced the national governing body to back down on a decision to withdraw from the Champions Challenge.

The Irish Hockey Association’s decision to pull out of next month’s tournament was announced on Tuesday, immediately drawing a storm of criticism on social media.

Lack of a coach and manager were cited as the reason, although subsequent reports – and events – suggest financial considerations were key.

“Likelihood frm quick calculation,Ireland likely to drop to 18th in world rankings due to decision this morning #irishhockey 4years hard work” said Ireland international Conor Harte via Twitter (Conor Harte ?@ConorHarte27)

Ireland have been moving up the world rankings in recent years – winning the second-level European championships in 2009 and finishing fifth at the EuroHockey Cup of Nations in 2011. They currently sit at 15 in the world rankings having narrowly failed to qualify for London 2012.

On Friday the IHA apologised for the announcement and said the trip to Argentina could go ahead if 45,000 euro could be raised. An online fundrasing effort had raised more than half this total by Sunday morning.

The International Hockey Federation has given the IHA until Tuesday to confirm their participation in Quilmes, Argentina, from November 24 to December 2, 2012.