Craig Fulton has made six changes to his Irish senior men’s squad for the EuroHockey Nations Championships as a combination of injury and unavailability have precipitated the overhaul.
The continental tournament comes just a month after World Cup qualification was achieved for the first time since 1990 with a fifth place finish at the World League Semi-Final in Johannesburg.
As such, it means the Euros offers Fulton a chance to test his wider panel with a bit less pressure though they will want to defend the bronze medal they won two years ago.
Eugene Magee (ankle) and Jonny McKee (shoulder) both have broken bones sustained in South Africa while Stephen Cole and Chris Cargo are both unavailable due to work reasons.
It means an overhauled midfield with Olympian Kirk Shimmins playing his first tournament since Rio while Michael Robson returns after injury. Three Rock Rovers’ Daragh Walsh is the tournament newcomer in this area having made his debut earlier this summer.
Up front, Ben Walker – who played with the Irish Under-18s last month in Nottingham – will take the place of Jeremy Duncan while Lee Cole returns to bolster the defensive options.
On the goalkeeping front, Mark Ingram takes over the number two jersey from Jamie Carr who will switch to the Irish Under-21 squad who are in European action in Valencia from August 28.
Number one David Harte is set to hit the 200-cap mark during the tournament in Amsterdam where Ireland are drawn in a group with England, Poland and Germany.
It’s been a busy time of late for Harte who was best man at his twin brother Conor’s wedding five days after returning from the Hockey World League.
In between, he also met with the OCI’s Athletes Commission and Minister for State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin, pushing for greater support for the sport.
Peter Caruth remains out injured as is Calum Robson while Ronan Gormley is unavailable while Owen Magee is in Australia of the other players in the wider squad. Ireland’s campaign begins on August 20th against Germany.
The side has been receiving extra quality on the coaching side of things with Kampong and Dutch legend Roderick Weusthof working with the squad as a drag-flick specialist while Dutch men Dave Smolenaars and Kai de Jager in assistant coach roles.
Speaking about the tournament, coach Fulton said: “The Euros selection leads to six changes from WL3 in Johannesburg. The squad is again a blend of youth and experience and we are very keen to build on the momentum created in qualifying for the World Cup in Johannesburg. The European Championships is a special tournament and we want to do as well as we possibly can against the top teams in Europe.”
Ireland men’s squad for EuroHockey Nations Championships (August 20-27, 2017; Amsterdam): David Harte (SV Kampong), Mark Ingram (Pembroke), Stu Loughrey (Hampstead & Westminster), Jonny Bell (Lisnagarvey), Matthew Bell (Banbridge), Paul Gleghorne (Lisnagarvey), Lee Cole (Monkstown), John Jackson (Bath Buccaneers), Conor Harte (Racing Club de Bruxelles), Sean Murray (Lisnagarvey), Kirk Shimmins (Pembroke), Shane O’Donoghue (Glenanne), Daragh Walsh (Three Rock Rovers), Michael Robson (Lisnagarvey), Ben Walker (Three Rock Rovers), Alan Sothern (Pembroke), Matthew Nelson (Lisnagarvey)