Men’s Hockey: Return of Ireland indoor squads a boost for the sport

Men’s squad heading to Santander in January for the Euro Indoor Championships

John Jackson and Michael Robson training with the Ireland senior men’s hockey team at the  National Sports Campus, Abbotstown.  Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

John Jackson and Michael Robson training with the Ireland senior men’s hockey team at the National Sports Campus, Abbotstown. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

 

It’s an exciting time for Irish indoor hockey with the re-establishment of the men’s and women’s senior national teams after a 30-plus year hiatus.

The men’s squad travel to Santander in Spain in mid January for the Euro Indoor Championships III.

The team has fallen back a bit since it played in the last tournament at home in Loughlinstown Leisure Centre in Dublin in 1987. It seems like a long time to have been beating the drum, which, for the millionth time, sharpens up the bigger outdoor version, generates closer skills and gives players confidence in confined space and under pressure with the ball.

Now the indoor and outdoor national teams are separate which, given the commitments to qualifying for World Cups and Olympic Games, is the correct pathway. Few players could commit to both versions.

Back in 1987 the players were largely, if not all, derived from the national outdoor squad, then ranked at 12 or 13 in the world (official rankings did not exist). But the indoor squad was very much an add-on.

There is also a view that indoor should be respected and consideration given to a short winter season of its own, an idea practised in European countries and more realistic these days.

Playing cricket in the summer was the historic reason the outdoor hockey didn’t run into the summer time. That is no longer a valid reason.

Ireland are in a group with hosts Spain, Scotland, Slovenia and Wales with only a top spot earning promotion to the second tier. There are no scheduled EY Irish Hockey League fixtures this weekend.

Ireland men’s indoor hockey squad: R Canning (Three Rock Rovers); M English (Three Rock Rovers); N Glassey (Crefelder THC - Germany); J Jackson - captain (Team Bath Buccaneers - England); J Lynch - vice captain (Monkstown); H Morris (Three Rock Rovers); S O’Keeffe - GK (Railway Union); B Parsons (Railway Union; R Rixon Fuller (Glenanne); C Robson (Crefelder THC - Germany); M Robson (Crefelder THC - Germany); S West - GK (Team Bath Buccaneers - England).

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