15th March 2017: Yesterday’s games ended the pool phase of the men’s Hockey World League Round 2 event in Belfast, with Ireland and France topping the tables ahead of the quarter-final phase of the competition.

Ireland (FIH Hero World Ranking: 10) finished top of Pool A thanks to a narrow 1-0 win over Italy (WR: 35), with Matthew Nelson’s 25th minute field goal proving decisive as the Italians made life difficult for the Green Machine. The first place finish means that Ireland will face a quarter-final meeting against Poland (WR: 19), the team that finished fourth in Pool B.

Ireland topped Pool A ahead of second placed Austria (WR: 21) – 2-1 winners against Ukraine (WR: 24) thanks partly to a double strike from goal-machine Michael Körper – with Italy finishing in third place and Ukraine in fourth. Austria will now face Scotland, the third ranked team in Pool B, for a place in the competition semi-finals.

France (WR: 17) made it three wins from three Pool B matches by overcoming a strong challenge from Wales (WR: 34) before emerging 1-0 victors, with Blaise Rogeau scoring the only goal of the game in the ninth minute. France’s quarter-final opponents will be Ukraine, who will need to find some form if they are to overcome an opponent that has hit some cracking form in Belfast.

Wales finished Pool B in second place, meaning that they now face a cross-over quarter-final contest against Pool A’s third ranked team Italy. Both teams have lost only once so far in this competition so it promises to be a hard match to predict.

The quarter-finals will take place on Thursday 16 March, with France versus Ukraine kicking off the action at 10:00 GMT before Wales take on Italy at 12:15. Austria and Scotland take to the field at 14:30 with Ireland playing Poland at 16:45.

Like all the Round 2 events, the competition in Belfast will witness a clash between teams that came through the first phase of the competition against sides that were automatically given a bye through to Round 2 due to their higher placement in the FIH Hero World Rankings. The highest ranked teams will enter the World League at the Semi-Final stage of the Hockey World League which will take place in this summer.

The top two finishers from the men’s Round 2 events in Dhaka, Belfast (11-19 Mar 2017) and Tacarigua, (25 Mar-2 Apr 2017) are certain to qualify for the Hockey World League Semi-Finals, being joined in the World Cup qualifier phase by the two highest ranked of the third placed finishers from those three events.

To learn more about how the teams progress through the competition in the hope of reaching the 2018 Hockey World Cups, click here, with more details about all of the HWL events available by clicking here.

Source: FIH.CH 

Photograph: France in action v Wales (Rowland White / PressEyeMen’s (c))