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Ulsterman Ian Sloan out to impress as GB take on the World

By Graham Hamilton

Former Cookstown star Ian Sloan is heading to Raipur in India later this month as part of Great Britain's squad for the World League finals.

This is his first major tournament since switching allegiance from Ireland to England just over three years ago and gives him an opportunity to prove himself ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The midfielder was the fourth Ulsterman to make the cross-channel move but while Iain Lewers, Mark Gleghorne and David Ames have all established themselves in the GB set-up, Sloan received setback after setback following hamstring and metatarsal injuries that saw him sidelined for almost two seasons.

It was ironic that part of the reason for switching was to get the chance to play on the Olympic stage, but while he was restricted to the fringe of the GB squad, his former Irish colleagues managed to secure Rio qualification without him.

But now, with injuries well behind him, the former Belfast Telegraph Sports Award winner is showing just what he can do.

He scored the winner to help GB win a mini-series against Argentina recently and has now been named in coach Bobby Crutchley's 18-strong squad for the World League finals - a tournament rated among the hardest to win but with a lesser profile than that of the Olympics.

Sloan said: "I am delighted to have been selected for the World League finals, my first major tournament for GB.

"It is a great opportunity for myself and the other younger players that have been selected to show what we can offer to the team and put ourselves in the frame for Rio.

"Scoring my first international goal against Argentina and helping the team to secure the series win was a personal highlight and I am sure that we will take the confidence that we gained from those wins into the tournament."

Crutchley has made sweeping changes to his squad following their bronze medal defeat to Ireland in August's European Championships in London.

He has decided to rest some of his top stars, including captain Barry Middleton and top scorer Ashley Jackson, while Ulster duo Lewers and Gleghorne are also rested and Ames is currently injured.

GB are pooled with world champions Australia, Belgium and Canada, with Germany, Netherlands, Argentina and India in the other pool, with the tournament running from November 27 to December 6.

Meanwhile, the Irish Hockey League gets under way again after a three-week break due to international games and inter-varsity tournaments and the only two games north of the border are at Banbridge and Cookstown.

Bann face Pembroke in the 5pm slot at Havelock Park and although the Dubliners have lost already to Lisnagarvey and then to Monkstown in a rearranged game last week, they still represent a threat with international players like Alan Sothern, Kirk Shimmins and former Garvey midfielder Jason Lynch in their ranks. Bann, though, should edge through.

Cookstown can't afford to lose at Steelweld Park to Railway Union while Annadale are hoping to pick up their first win at Glenanne.

Garvey make the long trip to Cork C of I aiming to become the first team to lower the colours of the Munster champions.

The top game in the Ulster Premier League is at Portadown, who host unbeaten Instonians.

Belfast Telegraph

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