FIH PRO LEAGUE
Ireland’s Senior Men begin their FIH Pro League campaign on Saturday in Bhubaneswar India on Saturday at 12 p.m. Irish time against The Netherlands. After that India, the hosts, take on Spain at 2 p.m. Irish time. On Sunday Ireland are idle as the other four play against each other. Spain take on Australia at noon our time and India take on the Netherlands in the 2 p.m. game.
Action resumes on Tuesday February 13 where Ireland take on Australia at 12 noon and The Netherlands take on Spain at 2 p.m. Irish time. On Thursday February 15 Ireland have their third game in the series when they take on Spain at 12 noon Irish time and India take on Australia.
The first half of the India phase of this FIH Pro League season finishes on Friday February 16 when The Netherlands take on Australia at 12 noon and Ireland play hosts India at 2 p.m. The five nations will relocate to Rourkela and that series will commence on February 19.
FIH PRO LEAGUE PLAYER QUOTES
Michael Robson said prior to the squad’s departure for India:
“When we were in Valencia we were seeing pictures online of the crowds in the stadium in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela and it was something to enjoy in terms of the atmosphere.
“We’re just delighted to get going and can’t wait to play India over there. That’s the game we are most excited about. Superb preparation, playing against the Top 8 teams in the world. It will certainly be a steep learning curve.
“It will get us really well prepared for the run up to Paris 2024. We’ll be able to enjoy the Pro League and just soak up the atmosphere. The stakes and pressure were massive in Valencia. The stakes are huge in the Pro League too but the expectations are probably not as high. We are going to stick to the process and see what we can achieve performance-wise.”
“We are going to focus on our own performances and how we want to play. In Valencia we didn’t get bogged down with the opposition or with the end result. We’ve worked a lot on our deep defence, we certainly feel very comfortable in it, but it’s not something we want to default to. We still want to be on the front foot and play with the ball.”
“Certain circumstances occur in match situations. But if there’s one goal in it, we’re pretty comfortable with our backs to the wall . We’ve got good structures in place and we trust that.”
Daragh Walsh, on getting into the FIH PRO League:
“When we initially got into the FIH Pro League, it was just a great spectacle and a great opportunity to be involved in it. But since Olympic qualification it’s become ideal preparation for the Olympic tournament in Paris later in the year. Since Covid we haven’t had a lot of opportunities to play top opposition. But in this first phase we will have 8 matches against 4 top class opposition that we don’t get to play against very often.”
On their knowledge of the Netherlands players:
“We have one or two players who play in the Netherlands and there’s a few of us in Belgium but there aren’t as many that our lads have experience of playing against at club level. We are aware of their qualities and that opening match will be a great benchmark for us as a squad.”
On their aspirations for the FIH PRO League: “It’s going to be a big ask to stay up in this League and in order to do that we will have to target certain games. We’d be looking to get positive results against Argentina and Spain. Spain are definitely who we are most familiar with as we usually play them 5-6 times a year. Spain tend to win most of them so at this stage we probably are owed a victory over them. They are a top-quality side, it will be difficult, but doable.”