Craig Fulton names Ireland hockey squad before meeting with Olympic champions Germany
The domestic hockey season may be almost finished, but it's full steam ahead for the senior international panel as they prepare to take on Olympic champions Germany ahead of the forthcoming World League 3 series in June, which acts as the final qualifier for the Rio Olympics.
Coach Craig Fulton has named an extended training squad of 37 players who will continue their build-up for the World series, which is being staged in Antwerp from June 23 through to July 6, effectively doubling the squad which won the recent World League 2 series in California.
Altogether, he has chosen 17 Ulstermen which includes the 10 who won gold in San Diego - Eugene Magee, Stephen Dowds, Bruce McCandless, Drew Carlisle, Jonathan Bell, Peter Caruth, John Jackson, Chris Cargo, Michael Watt and Paul Gleghorne.
In addition Fulton has recalled Timmy Cockram and offered a chance to upcoming stars like Neal Glassey, James Lorimer, Matthew Bell, Peter Brown, Owen Magee and Michael Robson.
And as part of their build-up the Green Machine will take on Germany twice, Belgium twice and France twice.
The Germany games will take place in Krefeld on May 11 and May 12, before the Olympic champions head off to Argentina for their World League series, the France games will be in Lille on May 23 and May 24 and the games against world No.3 Belgium are in Antwerp on June 6 and June 7.
The Belgians are in the same pool in the World series, but Fulton is happy for his players to get much-needed playing time on what will be the host pitch.
"The culture we are creating is one of healthy competition for places, teamwork and the belief we can qualify for Rio," said Fulton after naming his extended training panel.
"With a month until we must cut the squad to 18, the panel will train on a regular basis as well as taking in these games in Germany, France and Belgium."
IRELAND TRAINING PANEL: J Bell, M Bell, P Brown, D Carlise, P Caruth, C Cargo, T Cockram, S Dowds, N Glassey, P Gleghorne, J Jackson, J Lorimer, E Magee, O Magee, B McCandless, M Robson, M Watt (all Ulster); S Brownlow, J Carr, L Chadwick, S Cole, L Cole, M Darling, D Fitzgerald, M Elliott, K Good, R Gormley, M Ingram, S Loughrey, S O'Donoghue, K Shimmins, A Sothern, S West (all Leinster), J Bruton, D Harte, C Harte, B Lynch (all Munster)
BANGOR defender George Blackwood was the hero for the Irish Men's Grand Masters team as they won the Celtic Cup at the Aurora Arena over the weekend.
The Irish drew 1-1 with Wales and crushed France 7-1 to leave everything hinging on the outcome of their clash with Scotland.
Glenanne's Eddie O'Malley put the Irish ahead with a shot high into the roof of the net before Blackwood scored twice from penalty corner moves to seal a 3-1 win and the title.