Dave Passmore and Jonny Caren have named their respective panels for the upcoming EuroHockey Junior Championships which being in Valencia on August 28, a day after their senior counterparts finish up.
For Passmore’s Under-21 women, they side draws heavily from last summer’s Under-18 panel with two players – Michelle Carey and Sarah Torrans – having also played last month with the younger age group.
They meet England, France and Germany in Pool B. It follows an extensive, self-funded campaign during this summer, most recently playing Spain at a camp in Madrid before sharing a three-game series against Belgium in Brussels.
“The whole U21 group of 30+ have worked really hard over the past seven to eight months and the final selection for Valencia was highly competitive,” Passmore said. “We’ve made steady progress over the past six weeks and the match performances have improved through the matches against Spain and Belgium.
“The U-21 Europeans is a tough tournament and our pool is a challenging one with all three teams having competed in the Junior World Cup last November. England have a very settled squad and Germany boast a number of senior players whilst 14 of the French squad played in last week’s senior Europeans in Cardiff that will give them continuity.
“That said, we have a tight knit group and I am confident that we can cause an upset or two. Our aim is to better Ireland’s previous best place finish of 6th place.”
To that end, their cause has been helped by Italy’s withdrawal which reduces the tournament to seven teams with just last place relegated.
Goalkeeper Emma Buckley, Ellen Curran, Jessica McMaster and Erin Getty – all Under-18s last year – have a couple of senior caps each while Sara Twomey and Ruth Maguire will co-captain the side. Edel Nyland has impressed up front in the warm-up games.
Ireland fly out to Valencia on August 23 for a holding camp which includes a tie against Belgium to conclude the tapering phase before meeting England on August 28.
On the men’s side, injury to the senior side has seen Caren see a couple of players move up a grade, leaving him without Ben Walker and Daragh Walsh who will be in Amsterdam.
Sean Murray and Matthew Nelson are also eligible, too, but have established themselves in the senior squad in 2017. Caren has the services of Jamie Carr in goal, recently returned from World League with the senior men’s squad – he is one of two returnees from the last Under-21 Euros back in 2014 along with Simon Wolfe.
There is one final place to select with James Milliken and Max Maguire in the frame for the other goalkeeping spot.
Luke Madeley, Keith O’Hare and Julian Dale have both earned senior caps in the last year and will take on leadership roles. Matthew Crookshanks, Kyle Marshall, David Mawhinney, Conor Empey and Mark Samuel all played schools hockey this year – and Under-18s last summer – to provide plenty of youth to the side.
Ireland are in Pool B with Austria, Belgium and Germany. Belgium and Germany finished second and third respectively in last year’s Junior World Cup in India to show their ability at this level.
Speaking about the squad, head coach Caren said “We have been together as a large panel over the past nine months and this group have worked tirelessly on their preparation.
“We now find seven of the panel either involved in the senior European Championships or, unfortunately, injured but the main focus for this group was to ensure we had an extremely tight knit team that worked well together on and off the pitch.
“Our primary focus for this tournament is to ensure our top flight status to enable Junior World Cup qualification chance next time around.”
Elsewhere in Beerschot today, Ireland’s men lost 2-1 to Belgium in a tight match with Jeremy Duncan scoring in the 41st minute to cancel out Cedric Charlier’s opening goal. Amaury Keusters scored the winning goal in the closing quarter.
Women’s Under-21 squad: Emma Buckley (GK, Cork Harlequins), Michelle Carey (Railway Union), Edel Nyland (Longwood University, USA), Ellen Curran (Hermes-Monkstown), Sorcha Clarke (UCD), Taite Doherty (Pegasus), Erin Getty (Vice Captain, Randalstown), Tori Hastings (Queens University), Suzie Kelly (Hermes-Monkstown), Ruth Maguire (Co-Capt, Pegasus), Hannah McLoughlin (Loreto), Jessica McMaster (Queens University), Elizabeth Murphy (GK, Hermes-Monkstown), Alex Ogilby (Clifton), Sarah Patton (UCD), Abbie Russell (UCD), Sarah Torrans (Loreto), Sara Twomey (Co-Capt, UCD)
EuroHockey Junior Championships (August 28 – September 3, Valencia, all times Irish)
Monday, August 28: Ireland v England, 10.15am
Tuesday, August 29: Ireland v France, 2.30pm
Thursday, August 31: Ireland v Germany, 8am
September 2-3: Classification matches
Men’s Under-21 squad: Jamie Carr (Three Rock Rovers), Geoff Cole (Monkstown), Matthew Crookshanks (Annadale), Julian Dale (Cork C of I), Conor Empey (Three Rock Rovers), Ryan Getty (Lisnagarvey), Sam Grace (UCC), Luke Madeley (Three Rock Rovers), Kyle Marshall (Banbridge), David Mawhinney (YMCA), Peter McKibbin (Lisnagarvey), Fred Morris (Almere), John Mullins (Clontarf), Daniel Nelson (Lisnagarvey), Keith O’Hare (Pembroke), Mark Samuel (Three Rock Rovers), Simon Wolfe (Cork C of I), one more TBC
Monday, August 28: Ireland v Germany, 8am
Wednesday, August 30: Ireland v Austria, 8am
Thursday, August 31: Ireland v Belgium, 10.15am
September 2-3: Classification matches