Both the Irish men and women’s hockey teams will enjoy the same level of financial support after SoftCo became the main sponsor of the men’s senior team ahead of a busy 2022. The ultimate goal of both the men’s and women’s teams is Olympic qualification for Paris 2024.
Hockey is now aligned in all aspects of the sport in terms of gender-equality.
In 2022, the men’s team will compete in August’s EuroHockey Championship qualifiers in Dunkirk, France as well as making their debut in the FIH Nations Cup. The events are key stepping stones in the qualifying process for the Olympics.
The women’s team will take part in another World Cup in July following their London 2018 final. This year the tournament is being hosted by the Netherlands and Spain.
Ireland do not yet know which country they will play their pool games in as the global qualification process is not yet complete.
"I see a culture there which we need to work towards. When they have had the momentum, they have gone along with it," said Irish senior men's coach Mark Tumility about the success of the women's team.
“They’ve been to a World Cup and an Olympics and now another World Cup, so they have been to that top-table on a regular basis and that is the challenge for us - to get there and stay there.
“It’s about creating that on a consistent basis and getting that squad of players who can keep us on that level. They look like a very professional outfit, they have two days a week together and lots of opportunity to develop. Ideally, is that the situation for the senior men? It possibly is down the line but funding always comes into that.”
The men’s team has been going through a period of transition. Unlike the women, it did not make it to the Olympics last summer and they were unable to qualify for the men’s World Cup which takes place in India.
"From the team who played in the World Cup qualifier, the two guys who were at Rio were Shane O'Donoghue and Conor Harte. There has been a big turnover in that five years cycle and there were six or seven more who played in the World Cup (in 2018) so it's definitely a transition," said Tumility.