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Tumilty aims to kickstart new era for Irish men’s team with 14 fresh faces

Irish men’s coach Mark Tumilty will kickstart a new era for the Green Machine next week as he looks set to hand 14 players their first taste of senior international hockey.

Ireland will face Scotland in an uncapped three-game series with games on June 10th, 12th and 13th at the recently redeveloped pitch at University of Ulster, Jordanstown.

These will be the first games for the side since October 2019’s Olympic qualifiers in Vancouver and it offers the side a chance to give new faces a chance to stake a claim for a place in Tumilty’s plans for the next cycle.

It comes ahead of a busy summer with the European Hockey Federation confirming on Monday the second tier of continental competition has been cleared to go ahead in Poland in August. There is also a potential World Cup qualifier in October on the horizon.

With this in mind, Tumilty has sought to significantly widen his playing options over the past nine months, working in regional hubs with a host of rising talent.

In defence, former Under-21 internationals Kyle Marshall, Mark Samuel and Matthew Walker and ex-Under-18 star Fergus Gibson included along with Mark McNellis. The uncapped midfielders are Lisnagarvey Jonny Lynch and YMCA’s Sam Hyland while the forward line is augmented by newcomers Troy Chambers, Simon Wolfe, Ollie Kidd, Ian Stewart, Ben Nelson and Conor Empey.

James Milliken completes the uncapped group having previously been part of the panel that went to Vancouver in 2019.

They are joined by 11 more senior players and Tumilty is excited by what the future holds.

“We have a very young group, an exciting group and one that has worked extremely hard over the last year,” he said.

“We need to be patient with these players. There will be ups and downs and challenges along the way but I definitely think there is talent to work with. I also feel it is a great opportunity for the players who have been involved for a period of time to have a much greater influence on the team”

The coach has also been pleased to formalise his coaching staff in recent weeks. Eoin Cunniffe has been installed as physical performance lead for the side while Neill Irwin will be the team manager and nutritionist. The latter will dovetail that role with his work with the all-conquering Dublin senior footballers.

“Eoin co-ordinates the support side of the staff, the physios, the S&C and so on. He has done really well in developing the players physically. I felt this was a key area in which we needed to be much better, so I look forward to seeing how the improvement made here enable us to play a more aggressive and attacking style of play.

“Neill has made good progress in educating the players of the importance of nutrition and how it can enhance their performance. The players have engaged extremely well with him.

“For Neill, he is also involved with Dublin GAA as a nutritionist which gives him a great understanding of high performance and has been involved with a very successful and professional environment.

“Neill has also taken on the important role as manager. Ross Willis was added this week as video analyst, so it is great to finally have the management team in place now as we work towards the Euro’s and hopefully WCQ.”

Ireland men’s panel for Scotland series – Jordanstown; Thursday, June 10th to Sunday, June 13th (club, caps): Jamie Carr (KHC Leuven, 36), James Milliken (Lisnagarvey, 0), Mark Ingram (Pembroke, 26); Kyle Marshall (Beeston, 0), Mark Samuel (UCD, 0), Matthew Walker (YMCA, 0), Peter McKibbin (Lisnagarvey, 1), Fergus Gibson (Loughborough Students, 0), Sam O’Connor (Glenanne, 14), Tim Cross (Annadale, 8), Lee Cole (Monkstown, 89), Mark McNellis (Lisnagarvey, 0); Sean Murray (KHC Leuven, 78), Jonny Lynch (Lisnagarvey, 0), Neal Glassey (Crefelder HTC, 61), Daragh Walsh (Three Rock Rovers, 51), Sam Hyland (YMCA, 0), Michael Robson (Annadale, 113); Troy Chambers (Lisnagarvey, 0), Simon Wolfe (Cork C of I, 0), Ollie Kidd (Lisnagarvey, 0), Ian Stewart (Corinthian, 0), Conor Empey (UCD, 0), Ben Nelson (Lisnagarvey, 0), Ben Walker (Three Rock Rovers, 35), Jonny McKee (Crefelder HTC, 43)
Fixture schedule
Thursday, June 10th: Ireland v Scotland, 7pm, Jordanstown
Saturday, June 12th: Ireland v Scotland, 5pm, Jordanstown

Sunday, Sunday 13th: Ireland v Scotland, 11am, Jordanstown

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Red Bull gives wings to Irish hockey

Red Bull today announced its support for the Irish Women’s Hockey Team, also giving wings to top goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran (25) as the latest Irish athlete to join the Red Bull family.

Red Bull will give wings to the Irish Women’s Hockey Team as Official Energy Drink partner, supporting players and coaching staff in reaching their peak performance, providing Red Bull product and equipment during training as they prepare for the upcoming EuroHockey Championships.

The team will be able to access world class tools and facilities including sharing of knowledge and expertise from Red Bull’s global network of experts and it’s state of the art Athlete Performance centre in Austria.

The Green Army with their new set of wings. Picture: Billy Pollock

For Ayeisha, a star both at home and on the International hockey scene, she will join fellow goalkeepers, Maddie Hinch (Great Britain) and Anne Veenendaal (Netherlands) among other global sporting stars such as Neymar Jr, Max Vertsappen, Lindsey Vonn and Irish athletes Conor Shanahan, Thomas Barr, Greg Callaghan and Conor Maguire as part of the Red Bull family.

Ayeisha and Red Bull have developed a personalised helmet based on the iconic Red Bull rhombus design which she will now sport in all major tournaments.

Ayeisha made her senior debut for Ireland in 2014 and has since established herself as the national team’s first-choice goalkeeper with 100 caps to date. Regarded as a shoot-out specialist Ayeisha boasts an impressive career to date, nominated World Goalkeeper of the Year in 2018 and 2019, winning FIH Hockey World League tournaments in 2015 and 2017, the 2015 Euro Hockey Championship II and more recently, taking home a silver medal and honoured as Goalkeeper of the Tournament at the 2018 Women’s Hockey World Cup. Ayeisha has played her club hockey at Kampoong in the Netherlands since August 2019.

Ayeisha commented: “It is very surreal. Knowing how big the Red Bull brand is here in Ireland and across the globe, and how much they get involved and support their athletes, it is such a buzz to know that I’ll be a part of that story. I am always trying to up my game, and this is an opportunity to really take my career to the next level. I’m so stoked to become part of the Red Bull athlete line-up.”