Irish hockey squad’s exciting schedule

IRELAND’S senior men’s hockey squad face a demanding but exciting programme over the coming months in preparation for the World Cup Qualifying Tournament in Chanzhou, China, from March 12 to 23 next.

The Irish Hockey Association has released the training schedule which includes a number of international matches and training camps.

The first match will be in Nottingham on November 9, when Ireland play England. This will be one of ten internationals scheduled in the build-up to the trip to China.

Following the match with England the players will have a training camp in Dublin on the weekend of November 12 and 13, which will be followed by two test matches against Belgium in Brussels on November 16 and 17.

A tour to South Africa from January 11 to 22 next will see Ireland play two tests. They play against South Africa on January 17 and 19, plus two matches against New South Wales on January 20 and 21.

The schedule also includes five matches against France: three in Paris on March 10, 11 and 12, with the two countries meeting in Dublin on March 17 and 19.

In addition, there will be training camps in Dublin along with regional training sessions. The training camp fixed for February 24 to 26 is provisionally ear-marked for a venue in Spain.

During the programme national coach David Passmore will assess the form and progress of players.

He has an open mind on the make-up of the final squad for China and he will get a good opportunity to watch players over the course of three days at Garryduff Sports Centre in Cork with the senior and U21 interprovincials from November 25 to 27.

On November 29 Passmore will announce the revised senior and development squads.

On December 13 the squad to tour South Africa will be announced.

The involvement of Ireland in a high profile event such as the World Cup Qualifier means that from January 1, 2006, all players in the senior squad will only be permitted to play with their clubs in the Irish Senior Cup.

On Saturday the First Round of the Irish Senior Cup gets underway with four matches. Last season’s defeated semi-finalists Bandon must travel to play Weston at Kings Hospital School.

Bandon enjoyed their best ever Irish Senior Cup run last season and will travel with a near full strength squad.

In the other Irish Senior Cup matches PSNI play Skerries in Belfast, Raphoe and Newry meet in Raphoe, with Portrane/St Brendan’s taking on Queens University at DCU in Glasnevin.

In Cork the big match of the weekend is the Munster Senior League Division 1 game at Garryduff Sports Centre tomorrow between Cork Church of Ireland and Cork Harlequins (ho 3pm).

Always a big occasion in the Munster hockey calendar, Saturday’s game is expected to draw a big crowd to the newly-developed Rochestown venue.

BANDON: I Hosford, E Rice, G Beamish, N Martin, R Roycroft, G O’Sullivan, M Deane, M Kingston, R Smith, D Smith, M Treacy, T Martin, J Barrett, C Wood, P O’Leary, I Bryan, M Beamish.

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