Cox set to continue as Irish men’s coach for Olympic campaign

Alexander Cox and Hockey Ireland have confirmed the Dutchman will continue as Irish senior men’s coach on a longer-term basis, overseeing the 2020 Olympic qualifying campaign.

He took over the role in August 2018 on an interim basis following Craig Fulton’s departure to Belgium.  Cox oversaw the World Cup campaign in December which ended in a group stage exit in India, a frustrating 1-1 draw with China the defining result in their departure.

Alexander Cox on the pitch in India. Pic: Frank Uijlenbroek/World Sport Pics

Nonetheless, the feedback from the players for the coach and his methods was largely positive in the short timeframe he had to work with the squad.

Fuller details on how long he has been signed up for will be confirmed next Wednesday at a Sport Ireland funding announcement. For now, he says he is keen to “get back on the pitch together and working towards Olympic qualification”.

Speaking about the year ahead, head coach Alexander Cox said: “I am delighted to have committed my future to Hockey Ireland and to continue working with the Green Machine at such an exciting time for hockey in Ireland.

“We learnt a lot from the World Cup in India and are looking forward to getting back on the pitch together and begin working towards Olympic qualification, which is our main goal for this year.

“It will be a great opportunity for Irish fans to see the Green Machine at home in May when we face the USA and we are expecting two high quality games from an ever-improving side.

“We are working as a large panel of 30 at the moment which increases the competition in our selection and will begin our training camps shortly.”

One takeaway from the preparation phase is that more group sessions are likely to take place in Ireland. Pre-Christmas, the vast majority of camps took place in the Netherlands in midweek which led to some players being unable to attend and limiting scope for selection.

Olympians Peter Caruth and John Jackson are both back in the 30-man panel along with Neal Glassey, Julian Dale and Owen Magee of those returning to the squad. From the World Cup side, Mitch Darling is not named in this panel.

The Green Machine agenda sees them play Japan in a two-game series in April, the USA twice in May, leading up to the Hockey Series Finals in June, the key tournament for their Tokyo hopes. In August, they will play in the European Championships in Antwerp.

Ireland men’s squad for 2019: David Harte (SV Kampong), David Fitzgerald (Monkstown), Mark Ingram (Rotterdam), Jamie Carr (Three Rock Rovers), Jonathan Bell (Lisnagarvey), Conor Harte (Racing Club de Bruxelles), Paul Gleghorne (Crefelder HTC), Luke Madeley (Three Rock Rovers), Stuart Loughrey (Reading), Matthew Bell (Crefelder HTC), Lee Cole (Oree), Stephen Cole (Oree), Shane O’Donoghue (KHC Dragons), Michael Robson (Crefelder HTC), Callum Robson (Annadale), Kirk Shimmins (KHC Dragons), Sean Murray (Rotterdam), Daragh Walsh (Three Rock Rovers), Chris Cargo (Hampstead & Westminster), Matthew Nelson (Lisnagarvey), Jeremy Duncan (Herakles), Eugene Magee (Banbridge), Owen Magee (Braxgata), Alan Sothern (La Gantoise), Ben Walker (Three Rock Rovers), Johnny McKee (Banbridge), Peter Caruth (Annadale), John Jackson (Bath Buccaneers), Julian Dale (Cork Harlequins), Neal Glassey (Crefelder HTC)

Confirmed 2019 fixtures:
April 24: Ireland v Japan, SV Kampong
May 24 & 26: Ireland v USA, Dublin
June 15-23: FIH Series Finals in Le Touqet, France
August 1-7: Four Nations, Santander
August 17-25: Eurohockey Championships, Antwerp

Partners of The Hook