Hockey: Ireland prepare for World League 2 campaign
Graham Shaw’s team face Kazakhstan, Malaysia and Hong Kong over four days
Graham Shaw: his Ireland side begin their World League 2 campaign against Kazakhstan on Saturday. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
While their clubmates back home might be putting on an extra layer or two to combat the elements, the Irish squad in Kuala Lumpur is preparing for the opening game of its World League 2 campaign with the temperatures due to hit the 90 degree mark when they take on Kazakhstan on Saturday.
Ireland are in a pool with Kazakhstan, hosts Malaysia, who they play on Monday, and Hong Kong, their opponents on Tuesday, the other pool made up of Italy, Thailand, Wales and Singapore.
Graham Shaw’s side are the second ranked nation in the tournament, the Italians a slot above them at 15 in the world list, and so will expect to reach the final.
That would see them qualify for the World League semi-finals in the summer, while a third-place finish might also suffice depending on the outcome of the other two World League 2 tournaments. The World League semi-finals double as qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup.
In ranking terms, Malaysia, at 21 in the list, would look to be Ireland’s trickiest pool opponents, home advantage and their familiarity with the heat and humidity possibly standing to them. But maximum points will be expected from the meetings with Kazakhstan, ranked at 33, and Hong Kong (37).
The quarter-finals of the tournament take place on Thursday, with the semi-finals and final scheduled for the following weekend.
Ireland squad: C Sargent, R Barry, Y O’Byrne, N Carroll, R Upton (all Cork Harlequins), C Cassin, L Tice, K Mullan, G Pinder (all UCD), C Watkins, A O’Flanagan, N Evans (all Hermes-Monkstown), H Matthews, L Colvin (both Loreto), S McCay (Ulster Elks), Z Wilson (Harvestehuder THC), N Daly (Muckross), A McFerran (University of Louisville).