Ireland’s new Australian signing Tim Cross has revealed that he owes a debt of gratitude to his Ulster-born mother, who was instrumental in persuading him to switch his allegiance from his country of birth, writes John Flack.
Cross, who plays his club hockey for Tilburg in the notoriously tough Dutch top-flight, made his debut against Scotland in Glasgow last week.
He is set to win his fifth cap as Ireland round off their Four Nations campaign against their Spanish hosts in Barcelona today.
It’s been a whirlwind few weeks for Cross, who was named in the squad for this month’s European Championship in Antwerp just two days after winning his first cap.
The midfielder, who can also play in defence, qualifies for Ireland due to the fact he has an Irish passport and players can switch their allegiance provided they haven’t lined out at senior level for another country for at least three years.
Cross’s move bucks the trend somewhat after several Irish players switched to England and Great Britain in the past few years, having previously earned eight caps for the Kookaburras.
They include ex-Annadale star Iain Lewers, former Instonian Mark Gleghorne and Cookstown natives Ian Sloan and David Ames with Banbridge man Kyle Marshall the latest to swap green for red.
Marshall played for England’s Under-21s at the recent European Junior Championship in Valencia and, unlike the other former Ireland players didn’t have to fulfil the three year period in exile as he hadn’t previously played at senior level for Ireland.
Cross says he has no regrets about declaring for Ireland after previously making eight appearances for his native country.
He enthused: “My mum is originally from Newtownards and she encouraged me to look into the possibility of switching because I had an Irish passport.
“I hadn’t given it much thought before she made the suggestion but I decided I might as well go for it, jump in at the deep end and have a crack at it so here we are today.
“I am really happy with the decision and I have really enjoyed being part of the squad.
“They are a great bunch of guys and they have been really welcoming even though I am not from Ireland.
“I was bit nervous before my first match in which I just wanted to go out and play my usual game and the guys helped me out.
“Once the game started the butterflies disappeared and it was a lot of fun and I’m just glad of the opportunity to continue the journey and play more games at the Europeans.”
Alexander Cox, who became aware of Cross’s ability in the Netherlands where the Ireland boss doubles up as head coach of Kampong said: “Tim can play in two lines, either in defence or midfield and he has good basics as well as an attacking mindset, coming with his Australian hockey background.”