Teenager O’Dea on the mark in Irish men’s series against GB

Cork man Kevin O’Dea netted his first senior international goal for Ireland in their 3-1 defeat at the hands of Olympic-bound Great Britain at Bisham Abbey on Thursday morning.

Just a few days since completing his Leaving Cert exams, he fired home with 10 minutes to go to raise hopes of nicking a result from the uncapped test match which forms part of their build-up to the European Championships II in Poland next month.

GB had take a 1-0 half-time lead and doubled up just before the end of the third quarter from a penalty stroke before Cork C of I’s O’Dea got one back. The hosts, however, struck in the final play to make the game safe.

Nonetheless, the series represents another step forward for coach Mark Tumilty after a 20-month gap in action prior to their recent series against Scotland. This week, Ireland lost game one to the full GB setup 4-0 and then beat their elite development squad 8-4.

Ben Walker scored four times in that second game while Michael Robson netted twice in the first half to see Ireland build a 3-2 lead with Walker getting the other.

And they raced clear in the second half with another three from the Three Rock Rovers man while Conor Empey and Daragh Walsh – two other products of the Rathfarnham club – also weighing in.

Like the recent series against Scotland, Tumilty tried out numerous new players and he says that trend will continue when they take on the Scots again in the coming weeks.

“It was great for Kevin O’Dea to score a week after completing his Leaving Cert,” Tumilty said. “I felt during all three games we tried to play attacking hockey and are developing our style of play. The players are getting more confident on the ball and this showed over the three games.

“We still have plenty of work to do as we build a squad and playing style that enables us to achieve our long term objectives.

“Overall a very worthwhile camp, our performance improved each game and was great experience for our younger players who grew as the week progressed.

“I am pleased with how the players are developing and I look forward to giving other players an opportunity against Scotland.”