New training facility for Irish men's and women's hockey

The Ireland team pose with their World Cup silver medals
The Irish women's team received a civic reception in Dublin for reaching the World Cup final

Hockey Ireland says the creation of a new training pitch will play "an important part" in the development of the men's and women's senior sides.

Work has commenced on a state-of-the-art surface that will replace the existing sand-based pitch at the Irish National Sports Campus in Dublin.

The £540,000-pitch will be similar to the ones that will be used at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 World Cup.

The new facility is expected to be ready for use by April 2019.

The Irish women's team produced a remarkable performance to reach the Hockey World Cup final in August and Graham Shaw's team have now risen to eighth place in the world rankings.

The men's team are also in the top ten in the world rankings after they recently competed at this year's World Cup in India - their first qualifying for the tournament since 1990.

The recent success of both national teams has led to increased interest in the sport and a pledge from the Irish Government for additional funding to support their Olympic qualification bids.

The new synthetic surface will be constructed and maintained by Sport Ireland, which is the Irish Government body that oversees the funding and development of high-performance sport.

"As we build on the success of the women's silver World Cup medal this summer, this is a crucial development in our ability to support the high-performance teams," said Hockey Ireland chief executive Jerome Pels.

"The Tokyo specification hockey pitch at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus is an important part of our high-performance plan.

"We believe there are great benefits of being within the performance environment at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus and having a direct connection with the other facilities such as the Sport Ireland Institute."

Dublin will host a finals round of the inaugural Hockey Series in June 2019 with two teams progressing to the final Olympic play-off series and Hockey Ireland is expected to make a decision on the host venues for the tournament next week.

Watch Ireland's Hockey World Cup: Live Like Legends on BBC Two NI on Thursday, 27 December at 19:00 GMT.