International indoor hockey is set for a return to Ireland for the first time since the late 1980s with the Antrim Forum hosting a men’s and women’s triple-header against Scotland on Dec 28 and 29.
Over the course of the two days, both the men and women’s teams will play three times each with up to 120 tickets available to the general public in compliance with local Covid-19 regulations.
It is also a return of international hockey to the venue. The last time Antrim hosted international hockey was the meeting between Ireland and Pakistan in 1991 for the opening of the outdoor sand-based pitch.
In recent times, it has become the home of indoor hockey in Ulster, hosting the province’s ever-expanding series of youth tournaments with Bangor’s Under-15 boys and Coleraine’s Under-18 girls winning the most recent events last weekend. The venue also hosted the 2019 National Indoor Championships.
“It will be great to see international hockey back in Antrim after 30 years,” Ulster Hockey development officer and Antrim HC member Johnny McMeekin said of the exciting series.
“A lot of hard work around the development of the indoor game has taken place over the last number of years, and this event is another step in the right direction.
This event comes during a special celebratory period as Antrim Hockey Club and Ulster Hockey are celebrating over 125 years of hockey in Ulster.
“We look forward an exciting International Indoor Series between Ireland and Scotland and, to welcoming all the Players, Officials and Spectators to Antrim Forum on December 28th and 29th, 2021.”
Hockey Ireland indoor coach Kenny Carroll added: “It is really important that we showcase International indoor hockey in Ireland once again.
“It is a brilliant spectacle and great we have the opportunity to play at the Antrim Forum. I would like to thank everyone who has helped put this dual series together and to thank Scotland for taking us up on the opportunity to travel across at this time.
“It is brilliant our International Men and Women teams can play back to back matches. Finally I would like to wish all participants well during the series and look forward to Indoor Hockey further growing over the coming the years which will undoubtedly assist with the further development of hockey in general in Ireland.”
The Irish women’s side features seven of the side who played in the 2019 series in South Africa and the European Championships in early 2020 before the pandemic hit.
Millie Regan is the youngest of the trio of goalkeepers but also the most experienced in terms of caps. She is currently playing with Old Georgians outdoors but is back in Dublin with Railway Union for the Leinster indoor campaign.