Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Gene Muller gives outsiders chance to grab Ireland berth

National coach Gene Muller insisted the door is open for players to make the Ireland women's hockey squad for next year's European Nations Cup in Germany.

The tournament will double as an Olympic qualifier as the top three finishers will book an automatic place at London 2012.

Muller is currently working with a panel of 20 players, who are training full-time and are centralised in Dublin, but the South African says places are still up for grabs which is a boost to players who might have felt disadvantaged by their inability to commit to the centralisation programme.

“The squad is very flexible and players could come in and out at various stages.” said Muller.

“I will be taking a look at all our options and I will be watching the interprovincial tournament with interest.

“I may bring in players on a probationary basis from time to time as well so the door is open.”

The number of build up matches ahead of the Europeans could be fewer than usual.

“We have the Champions Challenge which will give us six good games in Dublin before we go to Germany,” said Muller.

“Normally teams are looking for friendly games in the build up to major tournaments, but there might be fewer of these now.”

Meanwhile this weekend's domestic programme looks to be in doubt due to the continuing cold snap.

If the games do fall clubs will have gone five weeks without fixtures as December 25th and January 1st are 'free dates.'

The Ulster Shield final between Ballymoney and the Ulster Elks is scheduled for Tuesday December 28th.

FIXTURES: Saturday: Premier League: Ards v Harlequins, Ballymoney v Knock, Lurgan v Pegasus, Queen's v Armagh, Randalstown v Ulster Elks.

Senior One: Cookstown v Lisnagarvey, Dromore v Omagh, North Down v Greenisland, Priorians v Ballymena, Victorians v Portadown.

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