Jason Klinkradt has been forced into two late changes to the men’s Leinster Under-21 panel that will take on the interprovincial championships this weekend at Portrane’s Donabate Community Centre home.
Neil Byrne suffered a partial tear to his PCL during one of the squad’s warm-up games, ruling him out until mid-October, and has subsequently been replaced by Corinthian’s David Howard. Freddie Morris, meanwhile, withdrew from the panel following his switch from Three Rock Rovers to Dutch side Almeerse HC in recent weeks, a club who were promoted to the Hoofdklasse last season. UCD striker Andrew Meates comes in for him.
In addition to the late changes, the side is unable to field Irish international keeper Jamie Carr, last season’s captain Luke Madeley and Daragh Walsh who are all playing in the professional Malaysia Hockey League with University of Kuala Lumpur while Jonny McCormack – part of last year’s panel – is also unavailable.
Indeed, given the time of year and the age profile of the side, it was a slightly tricky operation getting all the side together initially for group training with summer holidays from college an issue.
But things have been building nicely in recent weeks with strong performances in challenge matches against YMCA (5-2 win and a 2-2 draw) and Pembroke (3-0).
It is a team with plenty of EYHL talent with Monkstown’s Geoff Cole, Sam Hyland and Ziggy de Boe Agnew, Pembroke’s Keith O’Hare and Jack Ryan, Glenanne’s Stu Ronan and Three Rock’s James Walker all regulars at that level.
UCD quintet Stephen Dawson, Jazze Henry, David Nolan, Ben McCrea and Meates were instrumental in their club’s run to join them at the top table. Richard Couse will be another EYHL player this season, moving from Avoca to the Glens. Eight Leinster clubs in total are representatives.
There is less diversity to the Ulster panel with Stevie Arbuthnot naming a massive 10 Lisnagarvey players in the panel including key summer signing Peter McKibbin from Annadale. Sean Murray will be a key figure in midfield.
Similarly, Munster draw 10 of their panel from Cork C of I with Bandon’s fine development systems of late leading to seven call-ups with UCC’s Sam Grace –formerly of Corinthian and Three Rock via Kilkenny – the other inclusion.
Ireland’s Under-18s complete the four-team line-up with a couple of changes from the summer line-up. Conor Robinson, David Jennings and Sam Hyland have been released to their respective provincial Under-21 sides while Scott McCabe, Andrew O’Hare, Kyle Marshall and Mark Samuel are unavailable.
Ben Bradley comes in to take up a goalkeeping slot while John Guilfoyle, Gavin Gibney, David Mawhinny and Ben Wallace also come in. Chris Gardner, meanwhile, is a trialist for next year’s Irish Under-18s who plays his club hockey in Birmingham in England with Cannock.
The competition has been something of an ugly duckling, struggling to find an agreed place in the schedule. It did not run in 2014 while Ulster did not compete in 2015, reducing the men’s competition to being a one-day blitz.
But the interpros should take on an increased importance in the coming years with performances in the next 12 months, potentially being part of the road-map for potential qualification for the 2020 World Cup.
The tournament provides a strong showcase for players to earn a spot in the extended panels that will train toward the 2017 European Championships. That will be Ireland’s first appearance in the top tier since 2004. The IHA scrapped the age group soon after before they returned to the bottom of the continental pile in 2012 and had to work their way through the divisions.
The Euros form the basis for World Cup qualification and so Ireland need to stay in the top six for the next two campaigns – in 2017 and 2019 – to qualify.
As such, it is of long-term importance that the Under-21 interpros prospers as a bridge for development.
The tournament starts on Friday afternoon at 2pm at the excellent water-based pitch in Donabate – home of Portrane Hockey Club – a national competition making a very rare but welcome trip to north Dublin.
On the club front, Three Rock Rovers host their annual Super Cup at Grange Road with Scottish side Grange – champions in 2015 – and English Conference East side Oxted joining Annadale, Monkstown and UCD. Matches begin on Friday evening and run until Sunday afternoon.
Men’s Under-21 Interprovincials (all at Portrane HC)
Friday: Leinster v Ireland U-18, 2pm; Ulster v Munster, 4pm
Saturday: Ireland U-18 v Ulster, 10am; Munster v Leinster, 2pm
Sunday: Ireland U-18 v Munster, 10am; Leinster v Ulster, 2pm
Leinster: Stephen Dawson (UCD), Max Maguire (Monkstown), Aaron Bailey (YMCA), David Howard (Corinthian), Geoff Cole (Monkstown), Richard Couse (Glenanne), Ziggy de Boe Agnew (Monkstown), Jazze Henry (UCD), Sam Hyland (Monkstown), Ben McCrea (UCD), Andrew Meates (UCD), John Mullins (Clontarf), Rory Nichols (Dublin University), David Nolan (UCD), Keith O’Hare (Pembroke), Stuart Ronan (Glenanne), Jack Ryan (Pembroke), James Walker (Three Rock Rovers)
Munster: Peter Coulter (Cork C of I), Samuel Grace (UCC), Julian Dale (Cork C of I), Alex Deane (Cork C of I), Calum Crowley (Bandon), Mark Gallagher (Cork C of I), Simon Wolfe (Cork C of I), Matthew Jennings (Bandon), Ben Keoghan-O’Keeffe (Bandon), Philip Brownlow (Cork C of I), Colin Kingston (Bandon), Darren Wilkinson (Cork C of I), Alex Burns (Cork C of I), Brian Stockil (Cork C of I), David Jennings (Bandon), Mark Kingston (Bandon), Robert Johnston (Cork C of I), Conor Robinson (Bandon)
Ulster: Frazer Carnduff (Lisnagarvey), James Milliken (Lisnagarvey), Rowan Poots (Brooklands MU), Mack McNellis (Lisnagarvey), Ryan Getty (Lisnagarvey), Sean Murray (Lisnagarvey), Jonathan Beckett (Lisnagarvey), Jordan Taggart (Lisnagarvey), Aaron Reid (Nottingham Trent Uni), Josh Rowe (Banbridge), Daniel Nelson (Banbridge), Zach McClelland (Instonians), Tim Sloan (Cookstown), Peter McKibbin (Lisnagarvey), William Carey (Lisnagarvey), Ben Palmer (Instonians), Luke Witherow (Raphoe)
Ireland Under-18: Luke Roleston (Banbridge), Ben Bradley (Pembroke), David Power (Clontarf), Guy Sarratt (Monkstown), Alexander Tinney (Raphoe), Harry MacMahon (Three Rock Rovers), Chris Gardner (Cannock), John Guilfoyle (Monkstown), Gavin Gibney (YMCA), David Mawhinny (YMCA), Matthew Crookshanks (Annadale), Callum Robson (Annadale), Ben Wallace (Raphoe), Conor Empey (Three Rock Rovers), David Rae (Kilkeel), Ben Walker (Three Rock Rovers), Matthew Nelson (Lisnagarvey), David Lynch (Cork C of I)