Sunglasses and sunscreen rather than gumshields and boots will be the order of the day for an Irish team stepping out this weekend on the road to Olympic Qualification.
That they should be doing so in Beach Volleyball on the strand at Bettystown in County Meath is perhaps one of the quirkier Irish sporting stories of the summer and all the better for that.
Last week it was announced that Meath County Council were backing the event, telling the story of Meath tourism and food to an audience likely to reach 250,000 across Europe via live streaming of the event on Saturday and Sunday.
The event which is part of the Tokyo Olympic Qualifying Series features both male and female teams from across Europe.
In the Men’s draw, Ireland will take on Scotland, Lithuania and Ukraine which each Nation fielding two teams. In the Women’s side, there are high hopes for the team of Isabelle Carey and Alex Graves who will compete against the highly rated Denmark, Estonia and Slovakia.
Izzy Carey is coming off the back of a hugely successful NCAA College career in California where she has captained UCLA to an unbeaten season.
She also picked up the prestigious PAC-10 Student-Athlete of the Year Award. Her partner, Graves is transitioning from the Indoor Court where she recently represented Ireland in the Small Countries Championship in Luxembourg.
“I’m really excited to play with Izzy this week, we won the Battle for the Bay Tournament last week and we are building a nice rapport. Hopefully, we can play the underdog card well and pull off a shock.”
The experienced duo of Miriam Gormally and Marie-Claire Sobagal will play for Team 2.
International Tour player Oisin Mcardle is back in Ireland to represent his home nation where he will team up with Australian based Alex Gibbons.
“It’s great to be back in Ireland and pulling on the green jersey. I’m looking forward to getting up to the Boyne Valley and representing my country.”
Each nation plays their A team against their rivals A team, whilst the B teams also face off. If, after these games, the score is 1 each a golden match takes place. The tournament format is high stakes with a double elimination knock out structure.