IHA: Mark Raphael has informed the Ireland senior management that he is withdrawing from the national programme with immediate effect.

Raphael citied increased personal and work commitments together with the increased commitment required to the World Cup Qualifier as the primary motives behind his decision.

Raphael made his international debut in 1998 against Wales in Cardiff and went on to win 81 caps and score 10 goals.

After coming through the Irish underage ranks he went on to play in two A divisions European Championships (Padova 1999, Barcelona 2003) and was a key member of the squad which achieved promotion back to Europe's elite last summer in Rome.

“I have retired from international hockey as I am unable to commit fully to the upcoming programme,” Raphael said.

“I feel that the commitment required at this level is something that needs to be kept to the highest level and anything short of this is selling yourself short and letting down your team mates who are putting the effort in.”

“Mark is undoubtedly one of, if not the most skilful player in Ireland,” men’s head coach David Passmore said.

“To be losing a player with his skill set is terribly disappointing, especially as our preparations are really just commencing.
”It further raises the issue for Irish Hockey about addressing the longevity of players. We have to ask them to train like full time athletes or we have no chance of competing, yet they also have full time careers and private lives to deal with.

“As Performance Director I am looking at initiatives to address this but money is always the biggest hurdle.”

For a complete outline of the Ireland men’s training program, visit hockey.ie