- Angus Kirkland, chief executive of Irish Hockey, discusses the challenges of hosting the Road to London at UCD.
- Gene Muller, Ireland women's hockey coach, looks forward to the Road to London.
- Nikki Symmons, Ireland women's hockey international, comments on her side's chances of making the London Olympics.
- Paul Revington, Ireland men's hockey coach, reflects on his squad selection and preparation for the upcoming Road to London.
- Ronan Gormley, Ireland men's hockey captain, looks ahead to the Road to London.
Irish Hockey has today announced the two squads of eighteen who will represent both the national men's and national women’s hockey teams at their respective upcoming Olympic qualifiers.
The men’s squad shows one change from the EuroHockey Nations Championship squad that competed in Germany last August.
Defender Joe Brennan is ruled out of selection due to injury, which has made way for the inclusion of 21-year-old Stuart Loughrey.
Ireland will compete against Korea, Malaysia, Russia, Chile and the Ukraine for the final spot at the London 2012 Olympics, but in doing so they will enjoy a home crowd as Ireland host the Road To London from 10–18 March at the National Hockey Stadium in UCD.
Speaking at the team announcement today, coach Paul Revington said: “It is a big honour to be hosting this 2012 Olympic qualification event and I know this team will do their best to make Ireland and their fellow Irish squad-mates proud.”
The women’s side sees two changes from the recent EuroHockey Nations Championship as Nicci Daly and Nikki Evans come in for Niamh Small and Julia O’Halloran to make up the eighteen.
Ireland will travel to Belgium to compete in their tournament from 17–25 March, and will face Spain, Belgium, Mexico, Russia and France.
Commenting today, women’s Coach Gene Muller said: “We have worked hard for this tournament and our team is ready.
“We will need to be at our very best to qualify for the Olympics. Our main threats are Spain and Belgium.
“Spain have been at every Olympic Games since 1992 and Belgium are a rising force in world hockey.
“ There were some very difficult selection decisions, and we are leaving some quality players behind.”
High performance director Dave Passmore highlighted the diligent preparation both teams have undertaken in the lead up to these qualifiers, he said: “Both squads, despite their different paths, have prepared extensively and diligently for their forthcoming tournaments.
“Whilst both have demonstrated progress and some good results along the way, each has a challenging task ahead with tough opposition to overcome even to make the finals of these events.
"I am sure the Irish sporting public will get behind the teams, support which will be invaluable, especially in Dublin.”
Ireland men’s squad for Road to London, 10-18 March, UCD, Dublin:
David Ames, Chris Cargo, Peter Caruth, Tim Cockram, Mitch Darling, David Fitzgerald, Paul Gleghorne, Ronan Gormley (captain), Conor Harte, David Harte, John Jackson, John Jermyn, Stuart Loughrey, Eugene Magee, Geoff McCabe, Andy McConnell, Ian Sloan, Michael Watt.
Note: John Jermyn's inclusion is subject to a final fitness assessment.
Ireland women’s squad for Road to London, 17-25 March, Beerschot, Brussels, Belgium:
Emma Gray, Pamela Smithwick, Michelle Harvey, Miriam Crowley,
Cliodhna Sargent, Emma Smyth, Emma Clarke, Nikki Evans, Alex Speers (captain), Shirley McCay, Lisa Jacob, Sinead McCarthy, Aine Connery, Nikki Symmons, Audrey O’Flynn, Chloe Watkins, Lizzie Colvin, Nicci Daly.
World rankings of competing men's teams: Korea 6; Malaysia 13; Ireland 16; Russia 20; Chile 26; Ukraine 29
World rankings of competing women's teams: Spain 11; Ireland 14; Belgium 16; Russia 21; France 25; Mexico 30