23 player squad announced by Head Coach Mark Tumilty
Dublin, January 31: The FIH Pro League consists of the top 8 World Ranked Nations and another highly ranked nation usually the winners of a designated Nations Cup competition. Ireland will be heading to the FIH Pro League for the first time this Saturday and will play two series in India. Ireland will be up against World Ranked #1 Netherlands, #3 India, #6 Australia and #8 Spain. Ireland, who are WR #11 are the underdogs in this season’s Pro League
There is a parallel FIH Pro League competition taking place at the moment in Argentina currently which features the other 4 teams in the competition Belgium (World Ranked #2), Germany (#5), Great Britain (England are world ranked #4), and Argentina (#7). Ireland will get to play these teams in future rounds of the FIH Pro League which will take place in May in Belgium and June in London, UK.
So, for Ireland it will be a very busy few months in the run up to this summer’s Olympic Hockey Tournament in Paris. And Ireland’s first series will commence in Bhubaneswar on February 10 and run till February 16. The participating teams will then relocate to Rourkela, India and recommence the competition on February 19 and run till February 25.
Ireland Men’s Head Coach Mark Tumilty has named a 23 strong squad for both of these opening India based rounds of the FIH Pro League and it shows changes from the squad which qualified for the Olympic games last month in Valencia. There have been injury related withdrawals and some other players have withdrawn owing to work commitments.
Commenting on the announcement, Head Coach Mark Tumilty said:
“I always said the Pro League was where we needed to be due to the level of opposition we get to play against. We start against the Netherlands, Australia, Spain and then India. A chance to play against India in front of their home crowd is definitely something to look forward to. It will be a good barometer of where we are in relation to the other nations. I expect there will be a few tough games out there.”
“I think we’ve learned most over the last 12 months or so playing against the tougher opposition. Some of those were tough defeats but you learn a lot more from those. We couldn’t have asked for better preparation for Paris. It will definitely be an experience to play against India in Bhubaneswar and then in the new stadium in Rourkela. Definitely something for the players to look forward to. I think it’s something we have to get used to. It’s something we want to do on a continuous basis is be at the top table of World Hockey and this is the start of it.”
“We are bringing 23 players on this trip, there’s a few people unavailable for various reasons injury and family commitments and so it’s an opportunity for all 23 guys to show what they can do and in relation to being available for Paris selection. For all the younger guys the experience that they will get over the next six months. with the group should stand to them as we go into the next cycle.”
We come back from Paris and go straight into Euro Qualifiers in Dublin, ten days after the Olympics finish at the end of August and try to qualify for the European A Division. I think that’s a key tournament for us. We need to be back at that top table of European Hockey. To get up to that A Division and then the focus turns again to the 2026 World Cup. We’ve been a bit unfortunate in that we need to go through a qualification to get back to the A Division. Normally if you won the B Division or came second you automatically gained promotion.”
On the FIH Pro League: “It’s 16 games against the top 8 nations in the World. If we could manage to stay in the League and get another 16 games at that level again next year, it’s an invaluable experience for all the players and also for the coaching staff. That’s the goal to stay in the Pro League. It’s a challenge given our position in the World rankings. What we’ve shown over the past 12 months is that we can compete. We will definitely need to produce our best performances when we are out there, to get anything out of this visit.”
The first game will take place on February 10, 2024 when Ireland take-on the Netherlands, World Ranked #1, and it will commence at 12 noon Irish time. India take on Spain in the second game of the day at 2 p.m. Irish time.
On the second day of the tournament Ireland will be idle as there are 5 teams in the sub group as Spain host Australia at 12 noon Irish time and India play Netherlands in the second game at 2 p.m.
Ireland return to action on February 13, playing Australia at 12 Noon Irish time.
Netherlands and Spain will play the second game of the day at 2 p.m.
On February 15 Ireland play Spain at 12 Noon Irish time. India play Australia in the second game of the day at 2 p.m.
And finally on February 16 the Netherlands take on Australia at 12 noon Irish time.
India play Ireland at 2 p.m. Irish time in the final game of the day.
This will be the last game of the Bhubaneswar series and the teams will complete this phase at Rourkela in India starting February 19 2024.
FIXTURES (BHUBANESWAR SERIES ALL START TIMES IRISH TIME)
FEBRUARY 10, 2024
IRELAND – NETHERLANDS 12 :00
INDIA -SPAIN 2:00 P.M.
FEBRUARY 11, 2024
SPAIN -AUSTRALIA 12:00
INDIA – NETHERLANDS 2:00 P.M.
FEBRUARY 13, 2024
AUSTRALIA – IRELAND 12:00
NETHERLANDS – SPAIN 2:00 P.M.
FEBRUARY 15, 2024
SPAIN – IRELAND 12:00
INDIA – AUSTRALIA 14:00
FEBRUARY 16, 2024
NETHERLANDS – AUSTRALIA 12:00
INDIA- IRELAND 2:00 P.M.