Craig Fulton went with experience as he made his first major cut to his Olympic panel, reducing his squad from 27 to 21 ahead of next week’s six nations tournament in Valencia, quickly followed by a two game sequence against the Netherlands in Cork.
Indeed, there are no major bolters as Fulton largely keeps faith with the panel that has broken numerous barriers in the last two years.
Jamie Carr, Lee Cole and Neal Glassey – the panel’s only players not to have played in a world ranking tournament – along with Drew Carlisle, Stephen Cole and Stu Loughrey to be cut. They are now, barring a series of injuries, the unfortunate ones to be out of the Rio reckoning.
The tournament in Valencia runs from June 27 to July 3 and features a round-robin event against five opponents who will play their part in the Games in August.
Ireland are the lowest ranked side at number 12 in the world and they start off against Argentina, a side they will meet in their Olympic group, next Monday. They will then go on to play India, hosts Spain, New Zealand and Germany in what is a perfect build-up series for the Games.
During the tournament, John Jackson is set to become the third Irish player to hit the 200-cap mark, joining Ronan Gormley and Eugene Magee in passing the milestone. Bar Michael Robson, David Fitzgerald and Gareth Watkins, every player has over 50 caps to their name while there are 13 centurions included.
In the wake of the tournament and the Dutch series, the squad will be reduced to 18 players who will travel to the Olympics, 16 central players and two reserves.
Ireland: Jonny Bell (Lisnagarvey), Matthew Bell (Banbridge), Chris Cargo (Racing Club de Bruxelles), Tim Cockram (Lisnagarvey), Peter Caruth (Annadale), Mitch Darling (Rotterdam), David Fitzgerald (Monkstown), Paul Gleghorne (Lisnagarvey), Kyle Good (Monkstown), Ronan Gormley (Krefeld), David Harte (SV Kampong), Conor Harte (Racing Club de Bruxelles), John Jackson (Reading), John Jermyn (Cork C of I), Eugene Magee (Banbridge), Shane O’Donoghue (Dragons), Alan Sothern (Pembroke), Michael Robson (Annadale), Kirk Shimmins (Pembroke), Michael Watt (Lisnagarvey), Gareth Watkins (Monkstown)
* Jamie Carr travels to Valencia in place of David Fitzgerald due to injury
Six nations tournament (Valencia, June 27 to July 3), fixture schedule:
June 27: Argentina v Ireland, 6pm
June 28: Ireland v India, 4pm
June 30: Ireland v Spain, 8pm
July 2: Ireland v New Zealand, 10am
July 3: Ireland v Germany, 10am