Ireland men's hockey team aims to call upon the spirit of the women side’s heroic summer when they embark on their own tournament odyssey in Bhubaneswar.
The Irish women won silver in the World Cup final a few months ago and now it's time for the men's team to show their mettle on the field.
Ireland begin their campaign against defending champions Australia on Friday, with Pool games against China and England deciding progression to the knock out stages. The team's preparations have included two wins over England, before suffering a heavy 1-7 loss to the Netherlands.
South African Craig Fulton ended his decade-long association with Irish hockey ahead of the mega event to take up the position of assistant coach with the Belgium national team. Dutchman Alexander Cox, who helped steer the Dutch women’s national team to gold at the 2012 Olympics in London, has been handed the responsibility of leading the Irish men into the World Cup in India.
In a recent interview with the FIH, Cox expressed satisfaction with the squad. “The camps we had in Ireland and overseas were very good and allowed me to see the potential of all the players in our training panel. The 20 players selected give me the most options in defence, midfield and attack,” said Cox.
While Cox admits emulating the feat of the women’s national team by reaching the World Cup final is ‘almost impossible’, he says they can certainly take huge confidence from the way Graham Shaw’s history-makers defied the odds and achieved their dreams in London.
“Maybe when the tournament starts, people will compare it (the Women's World Cup), but I think we need to be reasonable and you can’t compare the two tournaments with each other,” said the 40-year-old.
Having finished 12th in each of their last two World Cup appearances, in 1978 and 1990, Ireland know they have a massive challenge against some of the top guns.
“It also difficult to compare men’s and women’s hockey. In this competition in India, maybe seven or eight teams can become world champion. Therefore, the competition is massive. What we can learn from the women is that you can dream big and that’s what we are also trying to do. We’re going to dream big and see what happens,” the coach concluded.
Squad: David Harte, David Fitzgerald, Jonathan Bell, Paul Gleghorne, Luke Madeley, Conor Harte, Stuart Loughrey, Matthew Bell, Lee Cole, Shane O’Donoghue, Michael Robson, Kirk Shimmins, Sean Murray, Chris Cargo, Daragh Walsh, Matthew Nelson, Mitch Darling, Eugene Magee, Alan Sothern and Jeremy Duncan.
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Updated Date: Nov 28, 2018 16:16:34 IST