Belfield to host Thursday night international double-header

Belfield will host its first international hockey matches since October 2015 on Thursday evening as a late stand-in venue with the Irish women and men lining out in a double-header.

The women face Chile as part of a three-nations tournament at 6pm before the men take on USA at 8pm in ties originally scheduled to be played at Rathdown.

Gillian Pinder on the attack against Chile in 2016. Pic: Adrian Boehm

However, watering issues this week at the venue led to the switch to the former national hockey stadium. Full refurbishments are set to be carried out at Belfield before the club season with UCD taking on the replacement costs without the support of Hockey Ireland with whom they joint-funded the last surface.

The pitch lost its certificate for international matches in 2013 with a deadlock finally broken this summer over how best to replace it.

For the Irish women, the series will hopefully see the return of Megan Frazer to action after two years of injury travails. Coach Graham Shaw is hopeful she can test her knee against Chile on Thursday and then play an increased role on Saturday against Italy at Serpentine Avenue.

Shaw is also waiting on the fitness of Roisin Upton who has missed the last four test matches with a hamstring strain with the World Cup now just 10 days away.

Because of those concerns, Shaw has retained reserves Emily Beatty and Naomi Carroll for this series. The coach has released Sarah Torrans to join up with the Under-23s who are Antwerp-bound for a ‘mini World Cup’ with five other development panels which gets underway on Saturday.

For the men, the interim coaching group of John Bessell, Kai de Jager and Jonny Caren take charge of the panel for the first time since Craig Fulton moved to Belgium.

They have made a number of changes for their two game series with USA. David Fitzgerald, Stephen Cole, Luke Madeley and Sam O’Connor return to the line-up while David and Conor Harte, Chris Cargo, John Jackson, Matthew Bell, Peter Caruth, Neal Glassey and Julan Dale step out.

Their first tie is at 8pm at Belfield before facing the same opposition on Friday at 7pm in Pembroke. The Irish women’s second game of their competition will be played on Saturday at Pembroke at 2pm.

Elsewhere, Jonny Caren has finalised an Irish Under-23 selection for their development tournament in Antwerp which gets under way on Saturday and features India, the Netherlands, Belgium and Great Britain.

Speaking about the squad and tournament, Caren said “This is another fantastic opportunity for us to develop our Under-21 players in a non-major competition year, with high caliber opposition in both European and Asian teams.

“With us missing four players to the senior programme as they compete for their spot in the World Cup squad, it enables us to look at players in a high pressure tournament environment that we maybe wouldn’t have been able to before.

John Bessell, one of the Irish assistant coaches, has helped name the latest panel. Pic: Adrian Boehm

“With promising performances in the USA Junior 3 Nations tournament in May, this will be a step up to challenge our team on the next level competing against U-23 teams.”

Ireland women’s squad (Three Nations tournament vs Italy and Chile, July 12-14): Ayeisha McFerran (University of Louisville), Grace O’Flanagan (Railway Union), Yvonne O’Byrne (Cork Harlequins), Hannah Matthews (Loreto), Lena Tice (UCD), Zoe Wilson (Belfast Harlequins), Roisin Upton (Cork Harlequins), Shirley McCay (Pegasus), Katie Mullan (UCD), Nicci Daly (Loreto), Gillian Pinder (Pembroke), Megan Frazer (Mannheimer HC), Chloe Watkins (HC Bloemendaal), Lizzie Colvin (Belfast Harlequins), Deidre Duke (UCD), Nikki Evans (HC Hamburg), Ali Meeke (Loreto), Anna O’Flanagan (Pinoke), Emily Beatty (Pembroke), Naomi Carroll (Cork Harlequins)

Thursday: Ireland vs Chile, 6pm, UCD
Saturday: Ireland vs Italy, 2pm, Pembroke

Ireland men’s squad (vs USA, July 12-13): Jamie Carr (Three Rock Rovers), David Fitzgerald (Monkstown), Mark Ingram (HC Rotterdam), Eugene Magee (Banbridge), Owen Magee (Banbridge), Mitch Darling (Three Rock Rovers), Johnny McKee (Banbridge), Matthew Nelson (Lisnagarvey), Jeremy Duncan (Herakles), Alan Sothern (La Gantoise), Shane O’Donoghue (KHC Dragons), Michael Robson (Lisnagarvey), Sean Murray (HC Rotterdam), Daragh Walsh (Three Rock Rovers), Stephen Cole (Oree), Luke Madeley (Three Rock Rovers), Paul Gleghorne (Crefelder HTC), Jonny Bell (Lisnagarvey), Stuart Loughrey (Hampstead & Westminster), Lee Cole (Oree), Sam O’Connor (Glenanne)

Ireland Under-23 men’s squad for Five Nations (Antwerp, July 14-21): James Milliken (Lisnagarvey), Josh McCabe (Cookstown), Ben Wallace (Annadale), Peter McKibbin (Lisnagarvey), Sam Grace (UCC), Keith O’Hare (Pembroke), Alex Tinney (Banbridge), Sam Hyland (YMCA), Ryan Getty (Lisnagarvey), Scott McCabe (Lisnagarvey), Matthew Crookshanks (Beeston), Luke Witherow (Banbridge), Craig Getty (Annadale), Callum Robson (Annadale), Freddie Morris (Schaerweijde), Andrew O’Hare (Lisnagarvey), David Rae (Kilkeel), Gavin Gibney (Glenanne)

Saturday, July 14: Ireland v India, 12pm
Sunday, July 15: Ireland v Netherlands, 12pm
Wednesday, July 18: Ireland v Great Britain, 1.30pm
Friday, July 20: Ireland v Belgium, 6pm
Saturday, July 21: Crossovers

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