Paul Revington confident selection gamble will work
Ireland coach Paul Revington insists his gamble in leaving out a number of key players for the Champions Challenge hockey tournament starting in Lille this morning will be fully vindicated come next weekend.
More than a few eyebrows were raised when Revington - who has watched his wider panel play no fewer than 10 games in a frenetic last fortnight - posted his 18-man panel, but with no place for the likes of Phelie Maguire and former Instonian Tim Lewis.
But the most notable absentee was unquestionably John Jermyn, the team's vice-captain and set-piece marksman, who has scored 61 goals in 120 appearances in the green shirt.
The Cork man has been Ireland's most valuable asset over the last three or four seasons, and while Ireland are by no means a one-trick pony at penalty corners, Jermyn will be missed.
It's a mammoth risk by the South African-born coach, but Revington doesn't believe it will backfire and insists Ireland can see off all-comers in Lille, with those players left behind being still available for selection - and fresh - for the European Cup tournament in Germany in late summer.
Ireland open their campaign this afternoon (2pm) against Scotland.
Next up tomorrow will be France, on whom Ireland inflicted a 6-1 annihilation during the Four Nations in Dublin, and they end the group phase against Russia on Tuesday.
Ireland really ought to be no worse than runner-up in Pool B, where they are likely to then oppose China or the USA from Pool A (which also comprises the Czech Republic and Austria) when the cross-overs begin next Thursday.
Ireland squad: David Ames, Peter Blakeney, Joe Brennan, Chris Cargo, Peter Caruth, David Fitzgerald, Alan Giles, Paul Gleghorne, Ronan Gormley, Conor Harte, David Harte, John Jackson, Stuart Loughrey, Eugene Magee, Geoff McCabe, Andy McConnell, Gareth Watkins, Michael Watt.
Today's fixtures: Group A: China v Austria (10am); USA v Czech Republic (noon). Pool B - Ireland v Scotland (2pm); France v Russia (4pm).