Irish to host big guns Pakistan in World qualifier build-up
Ireland men are to take on hockey powerhouse Pakistan three times early next month at Lisnagarvey as part of their build-up to the final World Cup qualifying competition.
Craig Fulton's lads are also going to take on near neighbours England - who will have many of Great Britain's Sultan Azlan Shah Cup winners in their line-up - in two training games and then complete their build-up for the Johannesburg tournament by taking on Germany, Spain and Austria in the Hamburg Masters.
The Green Machine's extended panel begin their preparations in earnest this weekend with the first of many training camps, with the England contests at Bisham Abbey on Saturday, May 27 and Sunday, May 28, both games uncapped.
The Pakistan games will be at Garvey on Thursday, June 1, Saturday, June 3 and Sunday, June 4 and the Hamburg Masters on Thursday, June 22, Friday, June 23 and Sunday, June 25.
They then head off to Johannesburg for the World League 3 series, which runs from July 9-22 and offers up to eight places in the 2018 World Cup finals.
"We're very pleased to be welcoming Pakistan to Hillsborough for a three-match series at the beginning of June," said Fulton. "It will be great to play in front of a home crowd and against a skilled team who are gearing up for their own World League campaign in London.
"The two matches against England will be a good test for our young side and then the Hamburg Masters is ideal as we play against three teams with different styles of play."