ICC Europe has announced the schedule and venues for the ICC European Division 1 Championship to be held in Ireland from the 25th to the 31st July 2008.

The 50 over round robin tournament will see Europe's top 6 Associate and Affiliate countries - Denmark, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Scotland - fight it out for Europe's top spot.

Six grounds will be used to host a total of fifteen matches that will see each country come face to face over five days.

Current European champions Ireland will be looking to retain their title on home soil, and the side's campaign will begin against tournament newcomer Norway at The Hills on 25th July.

ICC Affiliate Member Norway gained promotion to Division 1 after finishing top of Division 2 in 2006, overcoming second place Jersey, and other associate members including France, Gibraltar and Israel.

The other opening matches will see Denmark face Scotland at Malahide CC and Italy take on the Netherlands at North County.

Irish Cricket Union Chief Executive, Warren Deutrom commented on Ireland's hopes for the tournament saying:

'Winning the European Championships and retaining the title is still a hugely important goal for Ireland. Although last year's World Cup success gave us an exciting glimpse of the world beyond, we still consciously compare ourselves to our European neighbours, particularly our counterparts in ICC's High Performance Programme. If nothing else, the fierce competition among traditional rivals makes for highly competitive cricket which, in turn, helps raise the bar for European cricket.'

ICC European Development Manager, Richard Holdsworth who will act as Tournament Director commented,

'This is Europe's showpiece event in the tournament calendar and with the region containing three One Day International teams, there will be three ODI's as part of the event. It will be a tough challenge for the likes of Norway and Italy to compete against these highly world ranked countries, but is what the ICC Development Program is all about, and they deserve their chance to compete with the best.'

He added 'For Ireland hosting this event, we are truly grateful. They have become experts in hosting such events, and their facilities improve each year, which the participating countries will benefit from.'