Brave young guns prove that Irish have bright future
Ireland coach Craig Fulton knows that the future of the game here is in good hands after his young side held World No.6 Argentina to a 2-2 draw in Dublin on Saturday evening.
It may be his vastly experienced players who are getting considerable kudos after almost certainly booking their tickets to the Rio Olympics, but on this occasion it was the rising stars who had a shock in store for the Pan American champions.
Argentina had already beaten Ireland 2-1 and 6-3 earlier in the week despite Fulton using many of his regular squad, but this time he named only Paul Gleghorne, John Jackson and Timmy Cockram as the experienced players and was delighted at how the younger brigade shaped up.
Eleven of the 18 came from Ulster and Banbridge's Johnny McKee and Lisnagarvey's Sean Murray were handed their first senior caps, while others like Neal Glassey, James Lorimer, Owen Magee and Dubliners Lee Cole, Luke Chadwick, Stephen Cole and goalkeeper Jamie Carr also got valuable pitch-time.
It was Cockram who put the Irish ahead when he converted a penalty corner after good work by Jackson, but Argentina hit back through experienced striker Lucas Vila and penalty corner expert Gonzalo Peillat to lead going into the final quarter.
But with Matthew Bell, Glassey and Robson to the fore, the Green Machine levelled matters through Kyle Good.
Meanwhile, at domestic level, Instonians, Kilkeel and Portadown are the only Ulster Premier League teams with maximum points after two rounds of fixtures.
Inst had to come from behind to beat Newry 2-1 at the border venue, James Corry's penalty stroke conversion cancelling out Jeremy Greer's opener before James Dowling grabbed the winner in the final quarter.
Kilkeel also had to come from behind to squeeze through 2-1 against Mossley, David Rae's penalty corner and Eddie Agnew's strike on the reverse doing the trick after David Glenny put the Newtownabbey side ahead.
Adam Stevenson's double saw Portadown edge out Civil Service, his winner coming four minutes from time, while it was Alan Lyttle's brace that earned Raphoe a 3-1 win over Antrim.
Otherwise, hat-tricks were in fashion, with four players chalking up a treble.
Chris Lemon led the way for Belfast Harlequins as they managed to run up the biggest score of the day, a 6-3 success over North Down at Deramore.
And the other trebles came in Senior One where John McCaigue sparked Queen's to a 4-0 win at Armagh, Ryan Burgess was a thorn in the flesh as Bangor beat Ballynahinch 5-1 and David Hurley masterminded Cliftonville's 4-3 success over Portrush.
Finally, hockey is mourning the passing of former Irish international David Judge, who held the record number of Irish caps at 124 before finally being overtaken in the Nineties.
David also lined out for Great Britain and played at the Tokyo Olympics back in 1964.
RESULTS: International (Serpentine Avenue, Dublin): Ireland 2 (T Cockram, K Good) Argentina 2 (L Vila, G Peillat).
Ulster Premier League: Belfast Harlequins 6 (C Lemon 3, S McGrath, L McClelland, A McClelland) North Down 3 (D Shepherd 3); Raphoe 3 (A Lyttle 2, K Regan) South Antrim 1 (W Phillips); Portadown 2 (A Stevenson 2) Civil Service 1 (G Grundie); Kilkeel 2 (D Rae, E Agnew) Mossley 1 (D Glenny); Newry 1 (J Greer) Instonians 2 (J Corry, J Dowling).
Senior One: Armagh 0 Queen's 4 (J McCaigue 3, P Hawthorne); Bangor 5 (R Burgess 3, M McComb, N McKeown) Ballynahinch 1; Antrim 1 (L Kane) Campbellians 1 (J Clarke); Cliftonville 4 (D Hurley 3, A Cardy) Portrush 3 (B Smyth, A Christie, B McMullan).