German visit begins summer series with a bang

An international summer of over 80 matches at each level tips off in earnest with perhaps the biggest of the challenge matches on offer starting things off with Germany’s men – the Olympic bronze medalists – coming to Pembroke on Friday and Saturday.

It is the Honamas’ first visit to Ireland since 2005 for the UCD pitch opening with 16 meetings between the nations taking place in Germany since then.

Matthew Nelson and Lukas Windfeder renew rivalries on Friday and Saturday. Pic: Frank Uijlenbroek

Now in the world’s top ten for over 18 months, it is hopefully a mark that Craig Fulton’s side is seen as a more attractive option to visit for elite countries with the Netherlands having visited Cork in 2016.

It gives the Irish hockey public a rare sight on home soil of some of the game’s biggest stars like Christopher Ruhr, Timm Herzbruch and Martin Haner.

At Pembroke, Fulton is able to welcome back Olympians John Jackson, Mitch Darling and David Fitzgerald for the first time in 2018 following work and injury issues. Neal Glasey and Sean Murray are rested after a seriously intense 18 months while Jonny McKee is also out for this series.

Paul Gleghorne will hit the 200-cap milestone if he plays a part in either game while Shane O’Donoghue is one away from 150.

“We have had very high quality matches and there has been little to separate our two sides in recent times,” Craig Fulton said of the series. “They are bringing a strong squad, as are we, as we’re both looking to the World Cup at the end of the year and these are great matches to get our international calendar underway.”

David Harte is not available. The goalkeeper has been making headline after headline in the Dutch media in the past fortnight with SV Kampong, winning three shoot-outs in a row to help the club to the brink of the Dutch Hoofdklasse final.

They drew twice in the best of three leg semi-finals against HC Oranje-Rood with Harte making the vital saves in the deciding shoot-out each time. He then repeated the trick in the first leg of the final against Amsterdam, his stop from Boris Burkhardt a thoroughly ridiculous piece of dexterity.

Incredibly, Harte has not been beaten in a shoot-out since 2014. Kampong play leg two on Saturday and then, possibly, leg three on Sunday before facing into the Euro Hockey League FINAL4 the next week.

Elsewhere, the Irish Under-21 men travelled out to the US on Wednesday for a three-nations tournament that will feature the hosts and Japan, starting on Sunday.

Head Coach Jonny Caren is looking forward to their busy summer, saying: “This year is the perfect opportunity to focus on the dual purpose of the U-21 programme; to develop our athletes along the player pathway towards a senior international career and develop our younger athletes towards next years’ Junior European Championships.

“This three nations tournament is an exciting opportunity to look at current and future athletes in a competitive environment. It will be excellent experience for our talented group playing against the different styles of Japan and America.”

The Irish Under-16 boys and girls are in Germany for three games each in Dusseldorf with games against the Netherlands and Austria throw in.

Girls coach Brendon Carolan said of the series: “With a long term development programme in mind, building towards the U-18 European championships 2020, this will give us a great opportunity to see where we initially sit relative to other European teams.

“A great series of matches to learn from and progress our U-16s. We thank Germany for the invite and also look forward to testing ourselves against the Netherlands.”

Ireland men senior squad (vs Germany, May 18-19): Jamie Carr (Three Rock Rovers), David Fitzgerald (Monkstown), Peter Caruth (Annadale), Matthew Nelson (Lisnagarvey), Owen Magee (Banbridge), Alan Sothern (Pembroke), Jeremy Duncan (Herakles), Mitch Darling (Three Rock Rovers), Kirk Shimmins (Pembroke), Daragh Walsh (Three Rock Rovers), Michael Robson (Lisnagarvey), Chris Cargo (Hampstead & Westminster), Stephen Cole (Monkstown), Shane O’Donoghue (Glenanne), Matthew Bell (Crefeld THC), Lee Cole (Royal Oree), Conor Harte (Racing Club de Bruxelles), Paul Gleghorne (Lisnagarvey), Jonny Bell (Lisnagarvey), John Jackson (Bath Buccaneers)

Ireland Under-21 men (vs USA and Japan, May 20-26): Luke Rolleston (Banbridge), James Milliken (Lisnagarvey), Keith O’Hare (Pembroke Wanderers), Luke Witherow (Banbridge), Ben Wallace (Annadale), Sam Grace (UCC), Callum Robson (Annadale), Ryan Getty (Lisnagarvey), David Rae (Kilkeel), Scott McCabe (Lisnagarvey), Conor Empey (Three Rock Rovers), Geoff Cole (Monkstown), Sam Hyland (YMCA), Mark McNellis (Lisnagarvey), Cian Murphy (Pembroke), Julian Dale (Cork C of I), Matt Crookshanks (Beeston), Adam McAllister (Annadale)

Sam Grace in Irish Under-21 action last summer. Pic: Frank Uijlenbroek

Ireland Under-16 girls (vs Germany, May 18-20): Aoife Glennon (GK, Newbridge College/Naas), Holly Micklem (GK, Wesley College/YMCA), Aimee Christie (Victroia College/Lisnagarvey), Aisling Murray (Loreto Beaufort/Loreto), Caoimhe Byrne (Newbridge College/Newbridge), Charlotte Beggs (Rainey Endowed/Rainey), Emma Paul (Wesley College/Bray), Eva Lavelle (Alexandra College/Railway Union), India Cotter (Mount Anville/Muckross), Isabella Dunlop (The Kings Hospital/Old Alex), Isabelle Maleady (Muckross College/Corinthian), Jenna McCarlie (Larne Grammar/Larne), Katie Craig (Ballymena Academy/Ballymena), Martha McCready (St Andrews College/Railway Union), Milly Lynch (Newpark Comprehensive/Corinthian), Niamh McIvor (Belfast Royal Academy/Mossley), Nicola Torrans (Loreto St Stephens Green/Corinthian), Nikki Barry (Scoil Mhuire/Ashton)

Friday, May 18
Senior men’s international: Ireland v Germany, 7pm, Pembroke
Under-16 girls (Dusseldorf): Ireland v Germany, 3pm
Under-16 boys (Dusseldorf): Ireland v Austria U-18s, 6pm

Saturday, May 19
Senior men’s international: Ireland v Germany, 5pm, Pembroke
Under-16 girls (Dusseldorf): Ireland v Germany, 3pm
Under-16 boys (Dusseldorf): Ireland v Austria U-18s, 5pm

Sunday, May 20
Under-21 men’s international: Ireland v Japan, 8pm, Yale
Under-16 girls (Dusseldorf): Ireland v Netherlands, 3pm
Under-16 girls (Dusseldorf): Ireland v Netherlands, 1pm

Tuesday, May 22
Under-21 men’s international: Ireland v USA, 8pm, Yale
Wednesday, May 23
Under-21 men’s international: Ireland v Japan, 8pm, Yale
Friday, May 25
Under-21 men’s international: Ireland v USA, 8pm, Yale
Saturday, May 26
Under-21 men’s international: Ireland v Japan, 2pm, Yale

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