Cox shakes things up for Le Touquet Series finals

David and Conor Harte are set to return to the scene of their first international caps following their inclusion in the Irish men’s squad for the FIH Series finals in Le Touquet, France.

It forms a key part of the Olympic qualifying journey with Ireland – the highest ranked side – requiring a top-two finish to advance to October’s all-important direct qualification showdowns.

For Conor, the coastal spot has particularly special memories. His call-up came at short notice while at his now wife’s debs ball with Dave Passmore giving him his cap a day later in a 3-1 win over the French at the Celtic Cup.

Twin brother David and older sister Emer also had their first caps at the tournament, a famous weekend for the Kinsale family.

They are among the expected faces in a slightly surprising squad with six change from the World Cup. Former captain John Jackson’s return is a welcome one after a fine season in England while Neal Glassey, Jamie Carr, Ben Walker and Stephen Cole all come back in.

Three Rock Rovers’ leading light Luke Madeley will make his ranking tournament debut while Stu Loughrey, Alan Sothern, Kirk Shimmins and David Fitzgerald are not included. Kilkenny man Jeremy Duncan also misses out despite helping Herakles to third in the Belgian championship and it means a likely reshuffle up front with only Matthew Nelson and Eugene Magee included as out-and-out forwards.

Coach Alexander Cox hinted there will plenty of changing of positions, saying:

The selected squad gives me the opportunity to use certain players in multiple lines which I feel is an advantage for us.

The Dutchman will continue to double-job. He signed a two-year extension to his contract with SV Kampong this week. The Utrecht club – with whom David Harte is goalkeeper – have the first leg of their playoff semi-final series on Wednesday.

Ireland men’s squad for FIH Series Finals (June 15-23, Le Touquet, France): David Harte (SV Kampong), Jamie Carr (Three Rock Rovers), Conor Harte (Racing Club de Bruxelles), Jonathan Bell (Lisnagarvey), John Jackson (Bath Buccaneers), Luke Madeley (Three Rock Rovers), Lee Cole (Oree), Paul Gleghorne (Crefelder HTC), Shane O'Donoghue (KHC Dragons), Stephen Cole (Oree), Daragh Walsh (Three Rock Rovers), Neal Glassey (Lisnagarvey), Matthew Bell (Crefelder HTC), Sean Murray (HC Rotterdam), Eugene Magee (Banbridge), Matthew Nelson (Lisnagarvey), Ben Walker (Three Rock Rovers), Michael Robson (Crefelder HTC)

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