Eight players will make their ranking tournament debuts for Ireland next weekend as Craig Fulton confirmed the final 18 to play in World League Round 2 in Belfast.The forward line will include newcomers Jamie Wright, Matthew Nelson, Jeremy Duncan and Jonny McKee with Sean Murray and Neal Glassey offering options in midfield. Former St Andrew’s duo Lee Cole (defence) and Jamie Carr (goalkeeper) all come in to join a panel that features nine of the players who played in Rio 2016.
Matthew Bell is the odd man out as a European bronze medallist who did not go to the Olympics but has widely been regarded as the stand-out player in the EY Hockey League this season.
Ireland start their campaign on Saturday against Ukraine, looking to top a four-team group which features an Italy side that includes several naturalised players, primarily from Argentina, and a dangerous Austrian outfit.
Pool B features France, Poland, Scotland and Wales. On paper, the 17th-ranked French are the highest rated with 11 of their panel picking up a silver medal at the Junior World Cup in 2013.
But losses to both Scotland and world number 34 Wales – twice in the last week – suggest they are off the boil at this stage.
Looking ahead to the event, coach Fulton said: “It is a mix of exciting youth and senior experience which has been the case for the last four months in our build up to playing World League 2 in Belfast.
“It’s been a while since Ireland hosted a men’s FIH tournament so we’re looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd. The Stormont venue is looking good and the pitch is playing fast, and we’re eager to start our campaign against Ukraine this weekend.”
Ireland squad for Hockey World League Round 2: Jonathan Bell (Lisnagarvey), Matthew Bell (Banbridge), Lee Cole (Monkstown), Paul Gleghorne (Lisnagarvey), Ronan Gormley (Krefeld), Conor Harte (Racing Club de Bruxelles), Chris Cargo (Hampstead & Westminster), Jamie Wright (Banbridge), Shane O’Donoghue (Glenanne), Neal Glassey (Lisnagarvey), Sean Murray (Lisnagarvey), John Jermyn (Cork C of I), Eugene Magee (Banbridge), John McKee (Banbridge), Matthew Nelson (Lisnagarvey), Jeremy Duncan (UCD) Jamie Carr (Three Rock Rovers), David Harte (SV Kampong)