Craig Fulton has named a 35-man panel to compete for places in the squad at World League 2, which Ireland will host in Ulster next March.
It represents the first step on the road to qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in India.
With no international retirements from the group that qualified for a first Olympics in 108 years, Munster regulars John Jermyn, David Harte, and Conor Harte are included while there are seven new faces, including 19-year-old Cork IT student Dale, a noted scorer of spectacular goals.
He linked up with C of I to play in the EY Hockey League last season, having spent his formative years with Cork Harlequins, and made an instant impact with a goal-of-the-season contender to beat Banbridge 2-1 and ease his side’s relegation worries late in the campaign.
“There have been some promising EYHL performances which have solidified their squad selection,” Fulton said yesterday. “The door is also never closed to the national squad if performances warrant it.”
C of I are among the early title contenders this time around and are the league’s top scorers with 19 from five games; Dale will be looking to add to his seasonal tally of six when Neil Welch’s charges host Instonians tomorrow.
It’s part of a big day at Garryduff that also sees their ladies team, leaders in Munster’s Division 1A, take on Rathgar in the Irish Hockey Trophy. The day rounds off with the Andrew Chambers memorial match, an annual tribute to C of I’s former player/coach who tragically lost his life on the pitch before a game in 2010.
Meanwhile, at least one of the remaining 100% records in the women’s EYHL will fall when pace-setters Hermes/Monkstown and Cork Harlequins will lock horns at Rathdown.
Both sides have five wins from five this season, with the Dubliners scoring goals for fun early on before having to grind out wins in recent weeks, while Harlequins have been more solid than spectacular as a new-look panel laden with international talent beds down.
Roisin Upton made both her Quins and Ireland debuts last weekend to take their tally of senior internationals to five.
On the debit side, one of their younger starlets, Niamh Sexton, this week announced she will move to the US to study and play at Missouri State next season.
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