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Caren hopes rest will help Irish through tiring schedule


Irish call: Johnny McKee has been named in the Under-21 squad

Irish call: Johnny McKee has been named in the Under-21 squad

Irish call: Johnny McKee has been named in the Under-21 squad

Irish Under-21 coach Jonny Caren has been focusing on allowing his players to recover as quickly as possible from their weekend exertions in order to be ready for the Four Nations internationals, which begin this afternoon at Mossley and run through to Thursday.

Caren named 12 Ulster players in his 18-strong squad and is optimistic they can do well against their Scotland, England and Germany counterparts in the series being backed by Newtownabbey Borough Council and Sport Northern Ireland through their International Sports Events programme.

The players had a busy weekend at the inter-provincial tournament in Dublin with three games in three days, and now they are facing a further three games in three days, this time against quality international opposition.

So it is not surprising that Caren is anxious that this squad can recover as quickly as possible from the weekend and instead has been going over tactics and set-pieces.

"The talent on show at the weekend confirms that Irish Hockey has a really fantastic future ahead," said Caren.

"There were some great individual performances and because of this I have added a further seven players to the Under-21 training panel ahead of the forthcoming Europeans.

"This is what the inter-provincial tournament should be about, bringing the best out of players who are hungry for a chance to represent their country."

The Irish boys start against Scotland this afternoon (5pm) at Mossley, and complete their programme against England tomorrow evening (7pm) and World Junior champions Germany on Thursday evening (7pm).

Most of the Ulster contingent, who were part of the successful inter-pro squad, are already starring at Ulster Premier League level, exceptions being Peter Brown who is at UCD in Dublin, Ben Cosgrove who is with Grove Menzieshill in Scotland, and Jamie Wright who features with Portadown in Senior One.

But Caren has also included several schoolboys who have been showing outstanding form this season – Banbridge Academy's Johnny McKee, Wallace High's Sean Murray and Regent House's Peter McKibben, who have been lining out for Banbridge, Lisnagarvey and Annadale respectively.

These internationals are being used as preparations for Ireland's European Division B programme in July when they take on Belarus, Italy and Portugal in the pool stages.

IRISH U21s: Ben McMillan (Mossley), Jamie Wright (Portadown), Harry Spain (Pembroke), Kirk Shimmins (UCD), Michael Robson (Annadale), Ravin Nair (UCD), Sean Murray (Lisnagarvey), Peter McKibbin (Annadale), Johnny McKee (Banbridge), James Lorimer (Lisnagarvey), Mark Ingram (Pembroke), Neal Glassey (Mossley), Ben Cosgrove (Grove Menzieshill), Lee Cole (Monkstown), Nick Burns (UCD), Peter Brown (UCD), Matthew Bell (Banbridge), Matthew Allister (Annadale)

Belfast Telegraph