Craig Fulton has named a glut of players who could potentially make their world ranking tournament debuts at World League Round 2 in Stormont in March as he announced a training panel of 24 that he will work with for the event.
The squad includes 10 Olympians from last year’s 10th place finish in Rio, opening the door for many new faces to stake their claim for an extended place in the coach’s plans for the next cycle.TRR defender Luke Madeley and Annadale midfielder Callum Robson are the two uncapped players included. The latter comes in place of his older brother Michael who has missed the last few weeks of action through injury.
They are on a list of a dozen players who have not played in a top tier event at senior level. They will be guided, though, by the likes of Ronan Gormley and Eugene Magee – Ireland’s two most capped players – along with all-time top scorer John Jermyn and world goalkeeper of the year David Harte.
Chris Cargo, Jonny Bell, Paul Gleghorne, Shane O’Donoghue and Conor Harte are other centurions still in the mix while Peter Caruth is included following his recent return from injury.
He will provide precious experience in the forward line which will endure an overhaul with Mitch Darling, Michael Watt, Kyle Good, Alan Sothern and Timmy Cockram all taking a step back this time around.
It means the likes of Matthew Nelson, Jonny McKee, Jamie Wright, Julian Dale and UCD’s Jeremy Duncan look the main contenders to take up those places when the finalised panel of 18 is named closer to the event.
The defence, meanwhile, looks very solid with only John Jackson of the Olympic panel not involved this time. His absence will be made up for by Matthew Bell who has been exceptional this season for Banbrudge.
Ireland will go into the eight-team competition as the highest ranked at 10th in the world. A top three finish will see the green machine advance to Round 3 of the World League in Johannesburg when the 2018 World Cup places will be determined.
In Stormont, Ireland will be fancied to top a group against rank-outsider Italy and Ukraine. Austria are a tricky opponent in the initial phase, especially if ace marksman Michael Korper finds his range.
Of the other group, France are certainly a strong side and best avoided until the latter stages while Scotland and Wales have been on the rise. Poland also have their strengths with the majority lining out for reigning champions WKS Grunwald Poznan in the Euro Hockey League year on year.
Speaking about the tournament, Magee said: “It will by no means be an easy tournament so we will need to be well prepared and not underestimate the task at hand. Austria will be the toughest challenge in our group and all teams in Pool B will prove to be a challenge.
“We have had some good preparation games in the lead up to this tournament including games against France who are top ranked in Pool B.
“We have great depth in our squad and the young players coming up through have proven that they are more than capable of playing at senior international level.”
It will be Ireland’s first home fixtures since Rio and also their first ranking tournament on home soil since 2012’s Olympic qualifier. The competition gets under way on March 11th and runs until March 19th.
Ireland men’s squad for Hockey World League Round 2 (March 11th-19th): David Harte (SV Kampong, Netherlands), Jamie Carr (Three Rock Rovers), Jonny Bell (Lisnagarvey), Jonny McKee (Banbridge), Ronan Gormley (Crefelder, Germany), Chris Cargo (Hampstead and Westminser, England), Matthew Nelson (Lisnagarvey), John Jermyn (Cork C of I), Eugene Magee (Banbridge), Peter Caruth (Annadale), Neal Glassey (Lisnagarvey), Shane O’Donoghue (Glenanne), Sean Murray (Lisnagarvey), Matthew Bell (Banbridge), Callum Robson (Annadale), Julian Dale (Cork C of I), Jamie Wright (Banbridge), Paul Gleghorne (Lisnagarvey), Conor Harte (Racing Club de Bruxelles, Belgium), Jeremy Duncan (UCD), Lee Cole (Monkstown), Luke Madeley (Three Rock Rovers), Drew Carlisle (Banbridge), Mark Ingram (Pembroke)