The IHA confirmed the return of the Irish U-21 programme on Wednesday night at the first of four IHA Branch Open Forums in Park Avenue, a night when they launched HookedForLife, the IHA’s long term player development model.
Over 60 people from the Leinster community were in attendance for the evening on which High Performance Director, Dave Passmore, made the announcement, saying:
“The reintroduction of these teams fills a gap that has clearly been missing within our player development pathway, and indeed our elite coach development over the past few years.
Ireland last had an U21 side in 2004 when both teams were relegated in Europe to the second tier. The decision to reintroduce the teams has come about as a result of a review of the player pathway model.
Players and parents were also consulted highlighting the support for the reintroduction of these squads. The process for selection for the U-21 national squad will take place through the interpros held at Easter and a short preparation period will include the boy’s team competing in the senior men’s interpros.
Both teams will also compete in the U-21 Celtic Cup before their European Junior Nations events in Lisbon (women) and Bratislava (men) on July 18-22, 2012.
Passmore was quick to add that the programs in 2012 would be focused around a short but intense period of preparation in June and early July.