With the World Cup in London less than a year away we now know the official match schedule for the showcase tournament. The Green Army will compete in Pool B against Olympic gold medallists England (GB at Olympics), USA and India. Ireland will be the lowest ranked team in a challenging pool with all 3 of their opponents sitting inside the top 10 in the world rankings.
Ireland’s World Cup campaign will get underway on Saturday July 21st at 6pm against USA, a team known for their fitness as well as creative sparks led by Melissa Gonzalez. The sides most recently met in Pennsylvania in May of this year with USA winning the series thanks to 2 victories and a draw. But an upset is certainly not outside the realms of possibilities as many will remember the Green Army’s famous 2-0 victory over the USA at World League 3 in Valencia 2015.
Ireland’s second match of the tournament, Thursday July 26th at 2pm, will see a clash with India, a side that most recently won the Asia Continental Championships under new leadership from coach Harendra Singh. There is rarely much to separate these two sides when they meet and Ireland have edged the previous two encounters by 1 goal.
The final match of Pool B will arguably be the showpiece to the end of the pool games as Ireland take on hosts England on Sunday the 29th at 7pm in front of what is already a sold-out crowd. England currently sit second in the world rankings and picked up a bronze medal at the European Championships in August. They will be a formidable force for the Green Army with the majority of their squad Rio Olympic gold medallists (representing Great Britain). But the two sides will have plenty of opportunity to get to grips with each other before then as the sides are due to meet in two training match series prior to the start of the World Cup.
Commenting on the announcement, head coach Graham Shaw said “It’s a very competitive group with each team providing a different challenge. We’re thrilled to play at the World Cup in London, so close to home and we hope that the Irish crowd will get behind us. We have an exciting programme lined up for 2018 where we will continue to grow and develop as a squad, as well as bringing international hockey matches to supporters around the country prior to departing for London”.
General tickets have also gone on sale today so if you missed out in the original ballot allocation then click herefor the official tournament website and get your tickets to support the Green Army at their first World Cup since 2002!