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Ireland team land in India well prepared for World Cup task

 

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Press gallery: Banbridge’s Eugene Magee gives an impromptu press conference on Ireland’s arrival in India for start of World Cup

Press gallery: Banbridge’s Eugene Magee gives an impromptu press conference on Ireland’s arrival in India for start of World Cup

Press gallery: Banbridge’s Eugene Magee gives an impromptu press conference on Ireland’s arrival in India for start of World Cup

Ireland's men have arrived safely in India, are settled into their Bhubaneswar hotel and are getting acclimatised to the searing 31 degrees heat ahead of their opening World Cup finals game on Friday.

Alexander Cox's players - eight of them hail from Ulster - have been well warned in advance what to expect in a city that has previously caused problems for visiting European teams.

Just over a year ago, the German team ended up using a goalkeeper as an outfielder in the World League semi-finals to make up 11 fit players after seven were hit by a stomach bug, although Indian sources claimed it was a result of the food they had brought with them.

But Cox, who has been in Bhubaneswar with the Dutch team in the past, hopes that he and his players will take sufficient precautions to limit such problems.

Already the coach has gone on record about what must be done in such an environment.

"The players need to shower regularly, need to clean their hands with sanitisers the whole day, and must certainly avoid eating street food," he said.

"It means there may be little scope to move around the city to limit the chance of falling sick, whereas in Europe they often get some freedom to do shopping, play golf or go sightseeing.

"Going out for a cup of coffee is out of the question, so the focus will be on hockey, the hotel and the stadium, although we will need to find things to do to prevent boredom."

The sports and tourism departments of the Odisha government have been doing all they can to prevent a repeat of previous problems, including putting hotels on notice to exercise strict hygiene measures.

But the Ireland set-up, which encountered problems at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia, has been taking steps of their own to avoid any problems.

Already the players have been on probiotics for the last six months - these are live bacteria and yeasts usually added to yoghurt and described as friendly bacteria which can restore the natural balance in the stomach.

The games begin today, but Ireland's pool programme doesn't start until Friday when they take on current world champions Australia, the hardest possible introduction to a series which they haven't graced since back in 1990.

Three days later they take on China, and their final pool game is against England on December 7 when they face three Ulstermen - Mark Gleghorne, Ian Sloan and David Ames.

The bottom nation in the four-team pool is automatically eliminated, the second and third go into play-offs and the top team goes straight through to the quarter-finals.

Meanwhile, Annadale head to Cork C of I on Saturday for the rescheduled Irish Hockey League game which was postponed in October due to high winds.

The big game in the IHL's second tier is between Ulster rivals Kilkeel and Instonians, with a win vital to keeping in touch with leaders Corinthian.

And in the other pool, Bangor also need a positive result at UCD to keep in touch with the leaders.

There are three Ulster Premier League games at the weekend, with Mossley planning to stretch their lead at the top of the table when they visit Newry on Friday evening.

Belfast Telegraph