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Capped international hockey will make its long-awaited return to Ireland for the first time since 2019 with the senior men facing Malaysia next Tuesday, October 5 and Wednesday, October 6 in two matches at Lisnagarvey’s Comber Road venue.
The fixtures will form a key part of head coach Mark Tumilty’s preparation plans for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers in Cardiff from October 21 to 24.
Malaysia are the current world number 11 ranked side and offer 14th-ranked Ireland a suitably strong opponent in the lead-up to this crucial event.
The fixtures will be ticketed events with entry €12/£10 per game for over-12s while each adult can take up to four Under-12s in free of charge; a maximum of 500 tickets are currently available.
To this end, coach Tumilty has named a 22-player panel since the EuroHockey Championships II in Poland in August with a number of experienced players returning to the line-up.
“I am delighted to have the fixtures against Malaysia as the final part of our preparation for the upcoming World Cup Qualifier,” said coach Tumilty. “We need to produce two high quality performances to give us confidence before we face Russia on October 21st in that vital World Cup qualifier game”.
Conor Harte’s return could potentially add to his 252 caps for the first time in almost two years, having made a strong start to the Belgian season with his new club KHC Dragons.
David Fitzgerald also returns, adding to the goalkeeping options. It is a competitive area of the field with Mark Ingram and Jamie Carr will also be in the mix on that front.
Carr, along with Luke Madeley, he missed out on pitch-time in Poland due to Covid-19 close contact protocols which meant both had to spend their week at the tournament in quarantine. As such, they will be itching to make their mark.
Lee Cole and Matthew Nelson will also be vying for a place in the World Cup qualifiers spot along with 14 of the panel that played in Poland last month.
There are also potential formal debuts for Sam Hyland – who was a travelling reserve for the Euros – and Conor Empey who has scored twice in the opening weeks of the Dutch Hoofdklasse since linking up with SCHC.
Not included for this series from the European panel are Ian Stewart, Ben Nelson and James Milliken who remain part of the wider training panel.
Malaysia – known as the Speedy Tigers – are coached by former Ireland assistant coach Arul Antoni, also well-known for his roles with Glenanne, Three Rock Rovers and Dublin University.
They are currently on a four-week tour encompassing challenge matches against four English club sides before playing Ireland and then rounding off the trip with games against Wales and France.
Ireland men’s squad to face Malaysia (October 5 and 6; Lisnagarvey Hockey Club): Jamie Carr (KHC Leuven, Belgium), David Fitzgerald (Monkstown), Lee Cole (Monkstown), Luke Madeley (KHC Leuven), Mark McNellis (Lisnagarvey), Conor Harte (KHC Dragons, Belgium), Peter McKibbin (Lisnagarvey), Kyle Marshall (Old Georgians, England), Shane O’Donoghue (Glenanne), Sean Murray (KHC Leuven), Michael Robson (Annadale), Kevin O’Dea (UCD), Daragh Walsh (KHC Leuven), Johnny McKee (Banbridge), Ben Walker (Braxgata, Belgium), Jeremey Duncan (Monkstown), Conor Empey (SCHC, Netherlands), Sam Hyland (YMCA), Mark Ingram (Pembroke), Tim Cross (Annadale), Neal Glassey (Crefelder HTC, Germany), Matthew Nelson (Lisnagarvey).