** Words from Alan Good **
Ian Sloan gets another chance to continue his remarkable development into a top-class international hockey star after he was named in the Irish squad for next week’s INSEP Five Nations in Paris.
The 17-year-old Cookstown tyro will get a chance to test himself against some of the globe’s best, with the world’s top-ranked team Australia heading a tournament which also includes Korea (ranked 6th), Argentina (11th) and the home side France (17th), as well as world number 18 Ireland.
The son of former Irish internationals Marty and Adele, schoolboy Sloan made his senior bow earlier this summer and is just back from captaining Ireland at the Volvo EuroHockey U18 Championships, where he scored seven of his side’s 10 goals – the topscorer in the tournament.
He is one of five changes to the squad which claimed glory at the Champions Challenge II in Lille earlier this month, where Ireland ousted France 4-2 in the final.
Ireland and France’s immediate future remains entwined; having already met four times this summer, they will lock horns again this week before the big one on August 22, where they are paired together in the European championships group stages.
Ireland coach Paul Revington has gone for an attacker-heavy balance to his squad, with just four recognised defenders included.
Champions Challenge backs Joe Brennan and Stu Loughrey step out with midfielders Sloan and Bruce McCandless coming in, while Revington welcomes back 300-odd caps’ worth of experience as John Jermyn, Timmy Cockram and Mitch Darling come in with Alan Giles, Gareth Watkins and Peter Blakeney making way.
The tournament comes too early for Alan Sothern who has returned to intensive training after six weeks fighting back to fitness after breaking a metatarsal bone in his foot.
“We are very fortunate to be attending this event and especially considering the quality of opposition we will be facing,” he explained.
“The games are well timed as we continue to develop various areas of our team play through the summer, and our squad is provided with an immediate opportunity to press on after some success in Lille a fortnight ago.”
Ireland won’t get the chance to attempt to shackle three-time world player of the year Jamie Dwyer though; the Australian is still recovering from a knee operation.
Upon returning to Dublin, Ireland will meet Argentina twice more in friendlies, their final games before the Euros in Germany later next month.
IRELAND senior mens’ squad for INSEP 5 Nations, Paris: D Harte (GK, SCHC); D Fitzgerland (GK, Monkstown); D Ames (Beeston), C Cargo (Reading), P Caruth (Annadale), T Cockram (Lisnagarvey), M Darling (Den Bosch), P Gleghorne (Instonians), R Gormley (Club de Campo, capt), C Harte (SCHC), J Jackson (Mossley), J Jermyn (Cork C of I), E Magee (Dragons), G McCabe (Santander), B McCandless (Banbridge), A McConnell (Hurley), I Sloan (Cookstown), M Watt (Santander).