IHA names development squad as overhaul continues

Michael Moynihan

Development squads will replace the U-21 international squad in both the men’s and women’s international set-ups and are part of the roll-out of the IHA’s high-performance planning initiatives that focus on developing elite talent to achieve success at senior international level.

The development squads will be aligned to the senior squads and athletes may stand a chance of selection to the senior squad at any time.

Many athletes in the squad have already worked within the regional training centres with senior players.

The women’s development squad is to be announced shortly, while the men’s squad was announced yesterday. Ireland’s men’s national team is currently preparing for the European Nations Trophy in Rome in September.

Success in this tournament would return Ireland to the highest levels of international hockey.

“These athletes will be watched closely and I have no doubt that there will be one or two who push for a place in the squad for Rome,” said national men’s coach Dave Passmore, who is also the IHA’s acting high-performance director.

IHA chief executive Paul Varian said: “The development squad exposes emerging talent to the varying elements of top level hockey earlier and more frequently, both through full senior international competition and through a training programme that is fully integrated with the senior squad.

“This restructuring of our international set-up is another step to help us achieve the results we want on the international stage.”

Passmore has reviewed his squad following the end of the domestic season and work within the regional structure.

“I have generally been pleased with the attitude and commitment of the athletes to their regional conditioning and skills programs since January.

“After a short period of recuperation we need to get on with the task of preparing ourselves to compete in Rome,” said Passmore.

The national squad includes several changes, with two additions from January.

David Bane has been added after an impressive club season and the experienced David Smyth has returned after an 18-month absence due to work commitments.

After warm-up games against Italy in Dublin on May 25 and 26, Ireland play Italy and Canada in a Tri-Nations tournament in Cork from May 27-29.

The objective of the matches against Italy and the Tri-Nations with Canada and Italy is to see as many players as possible

before the squad moves into the final stages of the preparations for the team’s crucial European Nations Trophy showdown in Rome in September, where they will be aiming for promotion to Grade A and qualification for the World Cup Qualifiers in spring 2006.

There was more good news for Irish hockey yesterday when it was announced the women’s national team will compete in the prestigious 6-Nations tournament in Korea from June 9-16.

Taking place in Seongnam City, the event will provide quality opposition in the team’s continued preparations for the European Nations Championship in Dublin in

August.

The 18 players for Korea will be announced next Monday week (May 16), following a training weekend for the squad in Dublin.

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