Saturday, March 10, 2012
Ireland silently confident
AFTER a spectacular 2011, Ireland’s men will hope they can continue the momentum and qualify for the Olympic Games for the first time.
The much-vaunted FIH Road to London 2012 gets underway at UCD tomorrow, with the hosts taking on Russia (2.30pm) in their opening game.
Near-full houses are expected at Belfield for one of the biggest hockey tournaments ever to take place in Ireland.
Six nations will fight it out for the sole Olympic qualification berth on offer, playing out a round-robin to determine which two sides make the winner-takes-all final on March 18.
Paul Revington’s Ireland are seeded third of the six sides, with Korea favourites followed by Malaysia.
But the ‘green machine’ have beaten both sides in recent years, and the squad’s injury worries have cleared up to allow confidence to spread.
Traditionally a side short on goals and the nous to deal with the rigours of tournament play — they’ll play six games in nine days here — Ireland have overcome both obstacles during Revington's tenure.
The collateral gain of finishing fifth in the European championships last August was a leap of two places to 16th in the world.
Eye-catching results throughout the summer, claiming the Champions Challenge II and the INSEP Five Nations – a tournament featuring world number one side Australia – heightened the mood.
Ireland hammered Russia 8-2 and 9-2 last year but midfielder John Jermyn this week warned that they, the Ukraine — who the Irish play on Sunday — and Chile are “fast improving” sides who the hosts cannot take for granted.
Six points is nonetheless the minimum requirement from those two games ahead of Tuesday night’s key showdown with world number six Korea.
Saturday: Malaysia v Chile, 12pm; Ireland v Russia, 2.30pm; Korea v Ukraine, 5pm.
Sunday: Malaysia v Russia, 12.30pm; Ireland v Ukraine, 3pm; Korea v Chile, 5.30pm. -- Ireland times.
IRELAND squad: Men (UCD, Dublin, March 10-18): David Ames (Beeston, 55 caps); Chris Cargo (Reading, 37); Peter Caruth (Annadale, 48); Timmy Cockram (Lisnagarvey, 129); Mitch Darling (SCHC, 75); David Fitzgerald (GK, Monkstown, 5); Paul Gleghorne (Instonians, 47); Ronan Gormley (Club de Campo, capt, 133); Conor Harte (SCHC, 79); David Harte (GK, SCHC, 81); John Jackson (Braxgata, 81); John Jermyn (Cork C of I, 132); Stu Loughrey (Loughborough Students, 11); Eugene Magee (Dragons, 131); Geoff McCabe (RS Tenis, 99); Andy McConnell (Hurley, 55); Ian Sloan (Cookstown, 10); Mikey Watt (RS Tenis, 91).