IHA dealt another blow as Ames and Sloan declare for England

Fri, Jan 4, 2013, 00:00

HOCKEY:Following on from the recent departures of the men’s and women’s national coaches, the Irish Hockey Association (IHA) has been dealt another blow as two international players have declared for England.

The formal notification received that senior internationals David Ames and Ian Sloan have declared to play for England and Britain and have withdrawn from selection for the Ireland senior men’s team is no real surprise but nonetheless a huge set-back.

Cookstown teenager Sloan, whose father Marty captained Ireland, is one of the brightest players in the country, while Ames is a seasoned player with 64 Irish caps.

Iain Lewers and Mark Gleghorne also jumped ship three years prior to London 2012 with Lewers playing in the Olympics last summer, where GB finished fourth.

Gleghorne played with England but didn’t make the Olympic squad.

“It is obviously a massive risk declaring for a team who are ranked fourth in the world but it is a risk I am willing to take to realise my hockey ambitions,” said Ames in a statement.

“I know if I do my utmost over the next number of years and give myself the best chance of being available for selection, then I can justify my decision to declare for England.”

Both midfield players are currently based in England and have indicated that they foresee their future hockey careers and professional lives there. Under current FIH regulations, they will have to take a three-year international exclusion from the date of their last International match for Ireland, which was on 11th April 2012 making them eligible to play for England more than a year before the Rio Olympics begins.

It was suggested here before – and received a hugely negative reaction – that cash-strapped Ireland should seek compensation for nurturing the players and bringing them up to international level.

As it stands Ireland is currently dealing with the financial glitch that almost scuppered the national team’s recent trip to Argentina. New coach Andrew Meredith can now contemplate his side’s February trip to New Delhi, where Ireland compete in the new World League event.

Meredith may have noticed, doubtlessly along with Sloan and Ames, just what Ireland are up against over the next four-year Olympic cycle.

Sport England awarded England Hockey £12 million to support growing participation, talent development and capital facility investment, while UK Sport announced £15.5 million to support the England and Britain international teams. That’s £27.5 million over four years, or, almost €34 million.

In the most recent announcement of capital funding from the Irish Government hockey received virtually nothing.

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