The Ireland hockey team has ramped up its preparation for the Olympic Qualifying tournament to be staged in Dublin over the St Patrick’s week.
Coach Paul Revington has arranged top-class opposition against Netherlands, Britain, Spain and Belgium in Alicante, and England and Valencia during January and February. In all 11 matches prior to the Olympic qualifier in March.
It’s a very thorough and intensive programme . As hosts, Ireland will also come under more pressure than usual in their bid to become the first modern Irish hockey team to qualify for the Olympic Games.
Ireland play the Dutch in three matches in Alicante, beginning on January 20th. The Dutch are ranked third in the world behind Australia and the Germans.
The Netherlands have already secured their place in London 2012.
The Irish side then travel to Bisham Abbey, the training centre for the Great Britain team. There Ireland will play GB ( with former team-mate Ian Lewers in their ranks) , in a two-match series.
Following a week’s break the team heads back to Spain, where they play against the Spanish side before facing Belgium four times between February 8th and 13th.
The warm-up series concludes with a Test against Spain on February 14th. Spain are ranked fifth in the world and Belgium 11th. Ireland’s ranking stands at 16.
Meanwhile Gene Muller, has selected a squad of twenty who will travel to South Africa for warm weather training and a tri-nations tournament.
Ireland, who are sponsored by Electric Ireland, will travel out on the 22nd January and be in situ for twelve days at Randburg Hockey Stadium in Johannesburg.
Commenting on the selection Head Coach Muller said “This tour gives us an opportunity to build on the progress we made on our tour to Argentina in December. Both South Africa and Belgium are in the final stages of preparing for an Olympic qualification tournament, and therefore these games will be very competitive. We will use these matches for match preparation and for player trials before settling on our Olympic qualifying team. This event sees the return of both Louisa Healy and Megan Frazer to the national team.”
1. Aine Connery (Hermes, 41 caps)
2. Emma Clarke (St Albans 117 caps)
3. Lizzie Colvin (Loreto, 67 caps)
4. Miriam Crowley (Hermes, 26 caps)
5. Nicci Daly (Loreto, 26 caps)
6. Nicola Evans (Railway Union, 18 caps)
7. Megan Frazer (University of Maryland , USA, 25 caps)
8. Emma Gray (Hermes, 40 caps)
9. Michelle Harvey (Pegasus, 72 caps)
10. Louisa Healy (Loreto, 53 caps)
11. Lisa Jacob (Hermes 93 Caps)
12. Sinead McCarthy (Hermes, 37 caps)
13. Shirley McCay (Old Alex. 127 caps)
14. Audrey O’Flynn (Hermes, 50 caps)
15. Cliodhna Sargent (Cork Harlequins, 100 caps)
16. Emma Smyth (Railway Union, 51 caps)
17. Alex Speers (Capt) (Railway Union, 111 caps)
18. Nicola Symmons (Loreto, 161 caps)
19. Pamela Smithwick (Old Alex, 7 caps)
20. Chloe Watkins (UCD, 26 caps)
Date Match Time Venue
22nd – 3rd February Warm Weather Training Camp
25/01/12 Ireland v SA 19.00
27/01/12 Ireland v Belgium 19.00
Tri – Nations
28/01/12 Ireland v SA 14.00
29/01/12 South Africa v Belgium
30/01/12 Ireland v Belgium 19.00
31/01/12 Ireland v SA 19.00
01/02/12 South Africa v Belgium
02/02/12 Ireland v Belgium 17.00
Times of matches are subject to change. All times are local times