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'Tough calls': Tumilty axes experienced Gleghorne from Ireland's Olympics mission


Missing out: Paul Gleghorne
Missing out: Paul Gleghorne

By John Flack

The vastly experienced Ulster player Paul Gleghorne has been axed from the Ireland squad which is currently preparing for the Olympic qualifiers against Canada at the end of the month.

The Lisnagarvey defender, who has 238 international caps, would not have been fit to travel to Bordeaux for two warm-up games against France tonight (5pm) and tomorrow (4.30pm) anyway as he continues to recover from a hand injury.

However, interim national coach Mark Tumilty has confirmed that the 32-year-old is not in his plans for the Canada games.

It's a big blow for Gleghorne, who has been ever-present in the squad for many years, having played in both the 2016 Rio Olympics and last year's World Cup in India.

Tumilty has brought 20 players to Bordeaux and will make his final selection for the qualifiers from his extended training panel, which also includes Ulstermen Peter McKibbin, Callum Robson and Owen Magee, making it 12 from the province in total.

Matthew Nelson, Peter Caruth and Johnny McKee, who missed the cut for the European Championship in Belgium in August, and Chris Cargo, who made himself unavailable, are among the Ulster players included for the French games.

"There were some tough calls but we have picked the group that we felt gave us the best options for the qualifiers," Tumilty explained.

"The whole squad of 25 that trained last week are still under consideration and we'll look at how we come out of France in relation to final selection and also the balance.

"We've gone to France with a mix of seven defenders, five midfielders and six forwards, as well as the two keepers, and we'll just wait and see if that's what I want to maintain or change the ratios."

Tumilty says that results of the French double-header, replicating the time frame Ireland will face against Canada, are not important.

He added: "Winning against France isn't important for me, so we will be trying to bed in the few changes that (assistant coach) Jason Lee and I have made and get us playing better hockey and hopefully on the front foot. That's the main aim.

"We've been really impressed with the group, but in the six weeks we had to prepare for the qualifiers, we can't go making massive changes but we've made a few and we hope they work."

Meanwhile, Banbridge star Eugene Magee faces a further scan today on his injured hamstring which has rendered him a doubt for the trip to Canada.

Belfast Telegraph


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