Former Banbridge man Ben Cosgrove described his route into the Scottish set-up for this week’s World League Round 2 as one of pure chance having previously played with the Irish Under-21s.
He was part of the side who won the EuroHockey Junior Championships II in 2014 in Portugal, earning Ireland top tier status. He would have been eligible again to play in 2016 at that age group but for the decision to delay the tournament to 2017 to align better with the Junior World Cup schedule.By that time, Cosgrove was based in Dundee where he was pursuing a degree in dentistry and the combination of things forced his hand into taking a step back.
“When they moved it a year back, it meant I was too old for the Under-21s this year,” he told The Hook. “At that stage, I wasn’t really playing any international hockey and that’s when Scotland approached me and I thought I would take the opportunity.
“It hadn’t really crossed my mind when I came over but I’ve always really wanted to play senior international hockey. It was no fault against Ireland but I couldn’t commit to the travel. So I thought I would put my time and effort toward pushing for doing it here.”
As he had not played senior international hockey for Ireland before, he did not have to undergo the three-year waiting period that other Ulster players declaring for England have in the past.
Cosgrove follows the same route taken by former Annadale man Andy McBride and goalkeeper Lucy Camlin in playing underage for Ireland before switching to Scotland, the country of their studies.
For the Scots, he, first of all, made his mark in a couple of Under-21 ties in 2016 before getting his full cap against Russia in January. He subsequently made a couple of appearances before sustaining a broken thumb against France in a 2-0 win but impressed enough to get his maiden call-up for a ranking tournament.
On the injury, he says it was a small fracture – “luckily between the two joints” – and got back to stick and ball last weekend.
“It’s been great so far; I feel really lucky to get my chance,” he said of his inclusion and he added that the support from his boyhood club and school has been top-notch.
“The support has been class every time I get into a squad, getting messages from Eugene [Magee] and Beller. Likewise, I am always happy to see them get into the teams. Back in the day, playing with them was brilliant and I am really looking forward to getting my first cap in a tournament in front of all these boys.
And the irony of playing back in Ulster for his major tournament debut is not lost on him: “It’s quite funny; you couldn’t really write it!”
** Scotland play France in the World League Round 2’s first game at 10.30am on Saturday morning at Stormont