A good draw means that Ireland has a best ever chance of progressing to the knock-out stages of the European Mixed Team Championships taking place in Ramenskoe, Russia from February 12-17.
With the team led by double Olympians Scott Evans and Chloe Magee, Ireland face teams from France, Finland and Israel in their group.
“France, the No 6 seeds, will be our toughest opponents, “says Irish No 1 Scott Evans. “They have a strong team and we will have to be at our best to beat them. We have a very good chance of beating Finland, and against Israel, we have a good record. It’s a game we must win.”
Evans made a good start to the new year when he won the men’s singles at the Cyprus International in Nicosia.
Backing up Evans on the men’s team are junior international Jonathan Dolan, making his debut in this competition, and doubles specialist Sam Magee.
Chloe Magee is joined by Jennie King, who is playing league badminton in Germany this season, and up and coming junior Sinead Chambers.
At the last European Mixed Tournament in 2011, Ireland finished second in their group behind England.
Ireland play Finland in their first match on Tuesday February 12 followed by Israel and France on successive days.
Ireland’s new Performance Director, Tom Reidy commented “ the players are all in good form with Sam, Scott and Chloe all winning International titles in recent months so we have a great chance of reaching the latter stages, a first for Ireland in the European team Championships.
For a smaller nation in Europe it is a great achievement to be ranked in the best eight and that is our focus. If we and progress to the semi-finals after that it would be a significant milestone for Irish badminton. It will give Johnny Dolan great experience before the European championships where we are targeting a medal”
Home side Russia along with defending champions Denmark, England and Germany are expected to make the semi-finals.