Ireland add pace to squad for qualifiers

Ireland add pace to squad for qualifiers

Irish men’s coach Mark Tumilty opted for serious pace for his Olympic qualifiers squad as he rang the changes in the panel named to take on Canada in West Vancouver on October 26 and 27.

It comes in marked contrast to his predecessor Alexander Cox as Tumilty hopes a more direct approach will turn things around after their harrowing European relegation in August.

In total, the new man has made six changes from that line-up, with speed merchants Peter Caruth and Matthew Nelson giving the panel a much more direct look.

With Jonny McKee also coming back in for his first ranking games in over two years, it is an overhauled front-line with Michael Robson and Sean Murray likely to be deployed in midfield rather than as utility men under the old regime.

In the shake-up, Paul Gleghorne and Kirk Shimmins are the big names left out while Ben Walker and Stephen Cole will travel as reserves. Crucially, captain and goalkeeper David Harte is available again after a strong start to the season with Dutch club SV Kampong, helping them through the first phase of the Euro Hockey League last weekend in Barcelona.

Tumilty says a key principle is to get players lining out in their regular positions rather than trying to shoehorn them into a system.

“We want to have people playing in their regular positions,” the coach said.

“That was something me and [assistant coach] Jason Lee were clear on when we first met the group. It is hard enough playing international hockey and then try and adapt to new positions. So, I am happy with the squad – I think there is a good balance and shape about it.”

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