Saturday, December 2, 2023

Hockey Ireland secure pop-up pitch for Tokyo Olympic qualifiers

Hockey is set for its second venture into a rugby stadium this year following the news that Ireland women’s Olympic qualifier against Canada in November will be played at Energia Park in Donnybrook.

A temporary surface will be placed on the pitch at a reported cost of around €250,000 after Leinster Rugby gave the green light for a further boost to Irish hockey’s profile.

It will be the first time such an initiative has been put into place in Ireland and follows England Hockey’s successful venture at Twickenham Stoop earlier this year.

Jerome Pels, Hockey Ireland’s chief executive, said: “This is a huge step for the sport in Ireland to play hockey in a venue of this size.

“A lot of time and research has been dedicated to establishing whether the event could take place here. Similar to England Hockey’s successful use of an overlay carpet for their FIH Pro League matches at The Stoop in London earlier this year, we’re excited to bring this unique experience to Ireland.”

The women’s matches will take place on Nov 2-3 and a launch event will take place next week as Hockey Ireland bids to sell out the venue and see the women’s world silver medallists to its first Olympics.

RTE is also expected to live broadcast the matches, the first of which will be an evening push back with the timing of the Rugby World Cup final in Japan in the morning.

Donnybrook is the home base for Ireland women’s 6 Nations Rugby Championship.

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