A cohort of five uncapped players have joined Craig Fulton’s 35-player panel for the Irish squad that is gearing up for World League Round 2 in Ulster in March 2017 – their first step on the road to potential qualification to the 2018 World Cup in India.
Luke Madeley (TRR) and Sam O’Connor (Glenanne) are rewarded for strong performances with their respective clubs having taken part in a couple of training camps last Easter with the senior squad.Lisnagarvey’s Matthew Nelson moves straight up from the Irish Under-18s following a stunning set of performances in the age-group Euros in Cork. Pembroke defender Keith O’Hare and Cork C of I’s scorer of spectacular goals Julian Dale make up the five newcomers to the extended panel.
It is a panel with plenty of players who will also have next August’s European Under-21 championships on the horizon, especially in the wake of Ireland’s withdrawal from the Six Nations tournament in Valencia last month.
Of the Olympic panel, John Jackson is unavailable while goalkeeper David Fitzgerald underwent surgery this week and is unlikely to be back in full flow by the time the tournament comes around.
But, bar Timmy Cockram, 16 members of the Olympic panel are in situ with no high profile retirements at this stage, Fulton retaining a huge amount of top level experience.
Jeremy Duncan returns to the panel having made his debut back in 2014 off the back of UCD’s excellent start to the EYHL season while Jonny McKee, Sean Murray and Owen Magee are other rising stars vying for more central roles in the panel.
Speaking about the squad, the coach said: “The 35 man selected training squad has a nice balance of Under-21, youth and senior experience needed for the challenges of 2017.
“There have been some promising EY Hockey League performances which have solidified their squad selection. The door is also never closed to the National squad if performances warrant it.”
It is a busy year ahead with World League 2 in March. A top three finish will earn a place at World League 3 in South Africa in the summer where the World Cup places will be decided. Late August brings the European Championships with the Under-21 Euros following immediately after.
On the club front, last year’s men’s EYHL Champions Trophy semi-finalists all meet each other with Sunday’s tie between Lisnagarvey and Banbridge the pick of the action.
Indeed, the tie has been switched to Sunday to accommodate the BBC cameras who will be making a highlight reel from the tie between the two sides locked at the top on 11 points each.
Monkstown face Pembroke with Lynch brothers Karl and Jason facing their former club for the first time. Town will continue to have Max Maguire between the posts as he steps up for David Fitzgerald.
Railway Union will look to arrest their defensive problems at Park Avenue against Three Rock Rovers while Cork C of I host Instonians. Glenanne will hope they can get their first win of the campaign but have their hands full with a confident UCD side.
Men’s EY Hockey League
Saturday: Railway Union v Three Rock Rovers, 2.15pm, Park Avenue; Cork C of I v Instonians, 2.30pm, Garryduff; Glenanne v UCD, 3pm, Glenanne Park; Monkstown v Pembroke, 3.30pm, Merrion Fleet Arena
Sunday: Lisnagarvey v Banbridge, 3pm, Comber Road
Ireland men’s senior international squad: Jonny Bell (Lisnagarvey), Matthew Bell (Banbridge), Peter Caruth (Annadale), Chris Cargo (Hampstead & Westminster), Stephen Cole (Monkstown), Lee Cole (Monkstown), Drew Carlisle (Banbridge), Mitch Darling (Three Rock Rovers), Stuart Loughrey (Hampstead & Westminster), Neal Glassey (Lisnagarvey), Paul Gleghorne (Lisnagarvey), Ronan Gormley (Krefeld), David Harte (Kampong), Alan Sothern (Pembroke), Shane O’Donoghue (Glenanne), Michael Robson (Annadale), Michael Watt (Hampstead & Westminster), Kirk Shimmins (Pembroke), Gareth Watkins (Monkstown), Jamie Carr (Three Rock Rovers), Kyle Good (Monkstown), Conor Harte (Racing Club de Bruxelles), Eugene Magee (Banbridge), John Jermyn (Cork C of I), Mark Ingram (Pembroke), Keith O`Hare (Pembroke), Sean Murray (Lisnagarvey), Johnny McKee (Banbridge), Matthew Nelson (Lisnagarvey), James Lorimer (Lisnagarvey), Julian Dale (Cork C of I), Sam O’Connor (Glennane), Luke Madeley (Three Rock Rovers), Owen Magee (Banbridge), Jeremy Duncan (UCD)
Unavailable for World League Round 2: John Jackson (Bath Buccaneers); David Fitzgerald (Monkstown)