ESB & The Irish Hockey Association yesterday announced the squad for the Central Preparation Programme (CPP). The programme is designed to prepare Irelands Senior international hockey players for the 2011 EuroHockey Nations Championship where they will also seek qualification for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
The 24 athletes selected for the squad are:
Niamh Atcheler (UCD); Emma Clarke (Leicester); Bridget Cleland (Ballymoney); Lizzie Colvin (Holland- Club TBA); Miriam Crowley (UCC); Eimear Cregan (Catholic Institute); Nicci Daly (Loreto); Nicola Evans (Railway Union); Emma Gray (Hermes); Michelle Harvey (Pegasus); Lisa Jacob (Hermes); Sinead McCarthy (Hermes); Shirley McCay (Old Alex); Jean McDonnell (Railway Union); Anna O’ Flanagan (Hermes); Audrey O’Flynn (Hermes); Julia O’Halloran (Railway Union); Cliodhna Sargent (Cork Harlequins); Niamh Small (Loreto); Emma Smyth (Railway Union); Alex Speers (Railway Union); Nikki Symmons (Loreto); Pam Smithwick (Old Alex) Chloe Watkins (UCD)
The CPP will enable the team to train together on a regular basis in one location. The players are committing to a core, intensive preparation programme for 10 months from this coming October. Additional athletes may be invited into the programme by Coach Gene Muller as he will continue to monitor both club and interprovincial matches throughout the year.
Speaking at the announcement, Padraig McManus Chief Executive of ESB, said We were delighted when we heard initially about the CPP. It will certainly strengthen our chances of qualifying for the London 2012 Olympic Games and it brings Ireland in line with how other nations train. We are very proud sponsors of Womens hockey and I would like to congratulate each member of the squad and wish them well during this 10 month training programme and beyond.
National Womens Coach, Gene Muller said The start of the Central Preparation Program (CPP) signals a new direction for the Irish womens programme. The CPP will auger a period of intensive and focused training in a central location with the aim of qualifying the team for the 2012 Olympic games in the short term, and improve our chances of World Cup and Olympic success in the future. We are indebted to the dedication and commitment of the players that are undertaking this step to improve the national team. It reflects the ambition and desire of our national squad. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our sponsors ESB for their support, without whom this would not be possible.
The CPP has been backed by all key parties including the ESB, Irish Sports Council, Sport Northern Ireland, Sports Institute of Northern Ireland and The Irish Institute of Sport.
The move puts Ireland in line with many of the top international nations. It will help to address critical technical and tactical weaknesses and will also facilitate more intense, frequent and higher quality training sessions. Under the previous system it was difficult to control training variables to develop the team.
Each player will continue to compete for their clubs as the weekly schedule makes provisions for weekend club hockey (except for scheduled athlete breaks or international events) while also enabling athletes to prepare midweek with their clubs for ESB Irish Senior Cup and ESB Irish Hockey League matches.