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Ulster nine out to put Ireland on road to Rio Olympics

By Graham Hamilton

Nine Ulstermen are being given the chance to help Ireland qualify for the Rio Olympics.

Coach Craig Fulton has named his 18-man squad for the World League 3 series in Antwerp from which tickets to Rio are on offer, and players from north of the border make up half the panel.

The 18 have been chosen from the 20 who were in Belgium last weekend to take on the World No 4 nation in two build-up games, with Jonny Bruton and Annadale's Michael Robson named among the non-travelling reserves as well as recently crowned Ulster Player of the Year Neal Glassey.

The nine Ulstermen are John Jackson, Eugene Magee, Stephen Dowds, Drew Carlisle, Paul Gleghorne, Michael Watt, Jonathan Bell, Peter Caruth and Chris Cargo, and it means a lot to six in particular who still recall all too well missing out on the London Olympics when Korea scored a last-gasp winner in the qualifying final four years ago.

It also means that defender Gleghorne will face older brother Mark who now features in the Great Britain attack - they have already squared up to each other a handful of times since Mark switched allegiance but the Pool B game on June 23 will have a lot more than usual at stake.

Also in Ireland's pool are Malaysia, China and Belgium, while Australia, India, Pakistan, Poland and France are in the other pool. The series starts on June 20.

"The two Tests in Belgium last weekend showed that the team and players are on track," said Fulton. "But we will need to add more detail to our performances in critical phases to get results, which we believe we can do."

IRELAND: J Jackson, E Magee, S Dowds, D Carlisle, P Caruth, M Watt, P Gleghorne, J Bell, C Cargo, (all Ulster); D Harte, C Harte (all Munster); D Fitzgerald, M Darling, A Sothern, R Gormley, S O'Donoghue, K Shimmins, K Good (all Leinster)

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