Ames “still an Irish player” as he hopes to add to Irish caps tally

** Words from Southern Fried Hockey’s Alan Good

David Ames insists his loyalty still lies with Ireland — but has yet to set a date for when he will end his self-imposed international exile.

Ames, 23, and his former Cookstown team-mate Ian Sloan — now based in England with Beeston and Loughborough respectively — have been the subject of rumours that they are considering making themselves available for Great Britain, following in the footsteps of fellow Ulster men Iain Lewers and Mark Gleghorne.

Such a move would require a three-year “wilderness” period out of the international game, back-dated to the last time they lined out to Ireland.

Neither player has donned the green jersey since March’s Olympic qualifiers, and both are simply listed as “unavailable for selection” by the Irish Hockey Association. Both are absent from Andrew Meredith’s squad for the Champions Challenge I in Argentina later this week, although Sloan is currently injured.

However, midfielder Ames said he intends to return to the Irish fold at some stage and add to his 64 caps: “I am just enjoying the break at the minute. I have just landed my first full-time job and I want to commit to that over the next few months,” he told the Belfast Newsletter.

“However, I will be heading home to Cookstown for Christmas, but whenever I return here then I will decide when I will make myself available for selection. I’m still an Irish player and that’s the way I want to remain. Naturally I am going to miss not going to Argentina and I hope the guys do well and I am sure they will.”

Asked if he might retire from the international game to concentrate on club and work commitments, Ames said: “No, I’m too young to retire. There are still a lot of things that I want to do internationally in terms of playing at major competitions and doing well on the global stage.”

Meanwhile, the Irish men’s senior team arrived in Argentina earlier today but showed little travel fatigue in a warm-up game against the host nation, running up a 5-1 win in a practice game in Quilmes with John Jackson, Mitch Darling, Eugene Magee, John Jermyn and Ronan Gormley all on the mark.

They get their Champions Challenge campaign underway on Saturday at 5.30pm local time against the host nation before playing Japan a day later.

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