Ben Johnson, Rory Anderson, Johnny Lynch and 17-year-old Charlie Rowe are set to become the latest Irish senior men’s international as they take on Italy three times this weekend at Lisnagarvey.
It is just the team’s second home series since 2019, giving a rare opportunity to see Mark Tumilty’s intriguing panel in action on home turf as they continue their evolution.
The 21-year-old Johnson is set to become the first Waterford Hockey Club product to make his Irish senior debut. He is one of the club’s favourite sons with his father Craig and grandfather Roger both capped at youth and schools level as well as being instrumental in Newtown School’s development of a new astroturf pitch which has provided the impetus for the area’s rise.
And coach Tumilty says he is excited to see what Johnson can do following an exceptional season with Three Rock Rovers where he top-scored and was named player of the season.
“He was involved last summer but injury prevented him doing more with us,” Tumilty said. “I have kept a close eye on him; he has a corner [shot] and has scored goals for Three Rock and warrants an opportunity as he has really good potential.” He is one of two Munster men in the panel alongside Cork’s Kevin O’Dea and is part of Tumilty’s overhaul of the panel this summer.
Vastly experienced players like David and Conor Harte, Shane O’Donoghue and Lee Cole are taking time out with the majority of the panel aged 25 or under.
As such, last week against Spain, Nick Page and Donegal man Luke Witherow - a first Irish cap from the Raphoe system - made their debuts with Lynch, Rowe and Patterson now getting their chance to shine in games on Friday (7.45pm), Saturday (3pm) and Sunday (10am).
Stepping out for this series are Peter McKibbin (ankle injury), Mark McNellis and Kyle Marshall (hip flexor concern) while Neal Glassey is still involved with Crefelder HTC in Germany on the club front.
Conor Empey is also back in the line-up following an excellent personal season with SCHC in the Netherlands. He became the first Irish player to hit double-figures on the goals tally with 10 in the elite Hoofdklasse, outscoring the likes of Olympians Mitch Darling, John Jermyn, Alan Sothern and Mikie Watt.
Friday 10th June 2022: Ireland v Italy, Lisnagarvey HC, 7.45pm Saturday 11th June 2022: Ireland v Italy, Lisnagarvey HC, 3pm Sunday 12th June 2022: Ireland v Italy, Lisnagarvey HC, 10am
Mark Ingram (Pembroke), Jaime Carr (KHC Leuven), James Milliken (Lisnagarvey), Tim Cross (Annadale), Luke Madeley (KHC Leuven), Johnny Lynch (Lisnagarvey), Rory Patterson (Antwerp), Michael Robson (Annadale), Charlie Rowe (Banbridge), Luke Witherow (Banbridge), Sam Hyland (YMCA), Jeremy Duncan (Monkstown), Nick Page (Old Georgians), Sean Murray (KHC Leuven), Ben Johnson (Three Rock Rovers), Michael Robson (Annadale), Daragh Walsh (KHC Leuven), Kevin O'Dea (UCD), Callum Robson (Annadale), Conor Empey (SCHC), Johnny McKee (Banbridge), Ben Walker (Braxgata)