A young and inexperienced Ireland men’s team has been announced to compete in a four-nations tournament in Poznan, Poland this weekend (28-30 July).
The tournament against England, France and the home team is the first outing for the senior men’s team since their World Cup Qualifier campaign ended in defeat to Japan in April.
Senior men’s coach Dave Passmore will use the tournament to assess potential future stars and develop some of the younger members of the squad, as early preparation commences for the Eurohockey Nations Championship in Manchester in August 2007, and ultimately the Qualifying Tournament for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games (which Ireland hopes to host) in March 2008.
“It is crucial that we allow some of our more experienced players to have a lengthy rest from the game and at the same time look forward with a view to broadening the squad,” said Passmore.
“The objectives for this tournament are not results-based, but more on individual development towards 2008 and beyond.”
A total of six uncapped players have been selected following the recent development squad matches against England U21 and Germany U21, with the squad’s average age being just 21.6. At the tender age of 18, Mitch Darling and Ian Walker are the youngest athletes selected.
With only one of the six defenders selected available from China the competition from England, who are preparing for the World Cup, and Poland, who train together more or less on a full time basis, will be stern. However Passmore is philosophical.
“We can’t always have a short term agenda in Irish hockey.
“The only way to find out about these players for the future is to put them into an uncompromising tournament environment.”
Mark Black, Peter Blakeney, Karl Burns, Timothy Cockram, Mitch Darling, Mark Gleghorne, Charlie Henderson, David Hobbs, Mark Irwin, John Jackson, John Jermyn, Tim Lewis, Geoff McCabe, Eugene Magee, Phelie Maguire, Sean Nicholson, Ian Walker, Michael Watt
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