Gene Muller brings Ireland’s youngest ever side to a major tournament as they begin their EuroHockey Nation’s Championships tomorrow morning in Amsterdam with the unenviable task of facing reigning champions Germany.
They do so, though, with the psychological boost of a 1-0 win over England in a midweek warm-up match - Eimear Cregan (pictured, left) scoring a penalty corner - as well as getting an idea of the game-speed in the offing in a 40-minute run around against the Netherlands on Wednesday.
It gave the side some much needed game time after a three-game series against Azerbaijan was cancelled at short notice due to visa complications.
Emma Smyth (pictured, below right) picked up a head injury which required stitches in midweek but has been cleared to play meaning Muller has a full bill of health for the tournament and told the Hook: “I’m quite happy with where we’re at.
“It just depends where you need cover; basically it’s just what players are needed for which roles.
“Normally, in a squad of 18, we only travel with four midfielders. It was rare for us to take five to a tournament, normally its six defenders and six forwards. For that tournament, I went with one less defender.”
“But it’s a pool where I think the main aim is to play well. If we do that, we should stay up. If we play exceptionally well, we’ve a chance of getting to the World Cup.
EuroHockey Nations Championship, Wagener Stadium, Amsterdam:
Schedule (all Irish times):
Today (10.30am): Ireland v Germany
Tomorrow (8.30am): Ireland v Scotland
Tuesday (12.30pm): Ireland vs Spain
Thursday and Saturday: Classification matches/finals