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Bell confident in Irish as Magee gives timely boost

 

Jonny Bell reckons Ireland have a decent chance of making it to a second consecutive Olympics (stock photo)
Jonny Bell reckons Ireland have a decent chance of making it to a second consecutive Olympics (stock photo)

By John Flack

Eugene Magee is expected to be fit to play for Ireland in this weekend's Olympic qualifiers with Canada in Vancouver.

The Banbridge midfielder, who has 293 caps, suffered hamstring damage when playing for his club in an Irish Hockey League match against Three Rock Rovers.

However, the injury has responded to treatment and Magee should be able to play in both games.

Meanwhile, Jonny Bell, another of the nine Ulstermen in the squad, reckons Ireland have a decent chance of making it to a second consecutive Olympics.

In their last tournament, Ireland finished bottom at the European Championships in Antwerp in August but, with a new coach in Mark Tumilty and several changes from that squad, the Lisnagarvey defender is quietly confident.

Bell said: "The way the summer went was disappointing towards the end, and things unravelled a bit I suppose, but there is a fresh impetus now, it's a clean slate and we're ready to go.

"Home advantage will make them favourites, but as an Irish hockey team we're used to playing as the underdog sometimes and that tag suits us, so we can go in there and give it our best shot."

The two games, which start at 10pm on Saturday and 9.10pm on Sunday UK time, will be broadcast live on the BBC Sport NI website.

Garvey's Bell, along with Banbridge pair Johnny McKee and Magee, will miss Saturday's top Irish Senior Cup second round tie at Havelock Park due to the qualifiers.

FIXTURES: Saturday: Olympic qualifier (Vancouver): Canada v Ireland (10pm). Irish Senior Cup second round: Banbridge v Lisnagarvey (4pm); Bray v Monkstown; Clontarf v UCD; Cookstown v Railway Union (2.45pm); Cork C of I v Mossley (2pm); Glenanne v Cork Harlequins; Pembroke Wanderers v Avoca; Three Rock v YMCA. Kirk Cup: Pool A: Annadale v Raphoe (4pm). Intermediate League: Ballymena v PSNI (1pm); Belfast Harlequins v Armagh (2.30pm); CI v Saintfield (2.30pm). Sunday: Olympic qualifier: Canada v Ireland (9.10pm). All Ireland Schoolboy Championship (Dublin): Wednesday-Friday.

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