Dave Passmore, coach of the Irish men’s team, has revealed his plans for the Irish Senior Squad as they build up towards their Olympic Qualifying Tournament which takes place in New Zealand 2-10 February 2008.
Commenting on the programme was Passmore 'This program will enable the athletes to have a high quality compact period of preparation. The players proved at training last weekend that they are starting from a good base level and the program in place should provide them with the ideal preparation to perform in New Zealand'
The senior squad have a busy few months mapped out for them starting with three Matches away to Scotland, 23-25 November. Both Senior Squads (men & women) will travel to Stirling and play against the home side, this will provide valuable match practise against a side that are ranked only four places behind Ireland. Passmore will be using a large squad in Scotland and using the games to assess players who will form the basis of the squad that head to Chile to compete in a four nations this December.
The Irish men head to Chile from 11 until 23 December to compete against South Africa, Chile and Argentina; this is largely only possible due to the support received from the Irish Institute of Sport and the Irish Sports Council.
This four nations tournament will provide Ireland with invaluable match practise against fast paced hockey nations “Chile will provide the perfect climate and setting through which we will try to replicate the match pattern of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, whilst training daily also.” commented Passmore.
Passmore will unfortunately have to travel without a several key players to Chile including stalwarts Stephen Butler and Graham Shaw due to work commitments 'It is understandable that not all the athletes will be available for the whole program but I know each has worked hard to try and be available as much as they can and we are indebted to so many employers for their support. The athletes have been remarkable in their desire to commit and sacrifice so much to fulfil the program in search of Olympic glory' continued Passmore.
The players return from Chile on 23 December in time to spend Christmas at home before they head out to prepare and then compete in the Olympic Qualifiers. The squad will most likely spend up to two weeks in Australia on their way to New Zealand, the focus of which will be on sharpening up before the tournament. Many of the athletes are hoping to take extended periods of leave from work to accommodate their hockey commitments; this is made possible from the support of the Sport Northern Ireland Lifestyle Programme, the Irish Sports Council and the Aspire programme.
Beyond scheduled matches and tours the Irish team will still be sticking to their demanding training schedules during the forthcoming months to maintain and build up their fitness base. With the demands that are placed on these athletes during key tournaments like the Qualifiers; six matches in eight days; their physical condition will need to be in top condition.
Players involved in the Men’s senior squad will not be available for Club Matches from the 9 December – Post Olympic Qualifiers. The Irish Senior Cup programme has been placed outside of these dates to accommodate international players.
Ireland – Scotland (away in Stirling, Scotland)
Friday 23, Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 November.
Four Nations, Santiago Chile
Warm up matches will be played on 14 and 15 against Chile and South Africa.
Monday 17 December: Ireland – South Africa
Tuesday 18 December: Ireland – Chile
Thursday 20 December: Ireland – Argentina
Friday 21 December: Final and bronze medal match
Source: Irish Hockey Association
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