By The Hockey Paper
Ireland’s new coach Alexander Cox says the Green Machine can dream as big as the women’s side as they prepare for their first global tournament since the 1990 World Cup.
Comparisons with the World Cup silver medallists from London and how Ireland men may fare in November and December’s World Cup were inevitable at the Irish media day on Tuesday as Cox announced his squad, which will eventually consist of 18 players plus two travelling reserves.
Cox, who was assistant coach to the Dutch women when they won 2012 Olympic gold, told RTE: “Maybe when the tournament starts people will compare it but I think we need to be reasonable and you can’t compare the two tournaments.
“In this competition in India maybe seven or eight teams can become world champion. Therefore the competition is massive.
“What we can learn from the women is that you can dream big and that’s what we are also trying to do. We’re going to dream big and see what happens.”
Ireland, with a new sponsor in Turkish Airlines, are drawn in a tough Pool with world No 1 Australia, England and China.
But Ireland’s squad has enough experience to cope with the demands, coupled with 14 players who play outside of Ireland’s domestic league.
Cox, who also coached Kampong where goalkeeper David Harte currently plays, added that Ireland would aim to play pressure-free hockey in India and revel in the excitement of a first World Cup for 28 years.
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It was a sentiment backed up by defender Jonny Bell, who told the BBC: “Teams know when you play Ireland that you get a dogged opponent and when we bring our strengths we can be a match for anyone in the world.”
Asked how the mood in the camp was under the highly-rated Cox following the departure of Craig Fulton, Bell added: “Everyone upped their game. Everyone was out to impress and it was a competitive environment. That bodes well moving forwards.
“The girls have added to the incredible story that is Irish hockey. We won’t put too much pressure on ourselves and all eyes will be on Australia.”
Meanwhile, Ireland women received another boost on their path to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Tuesday when they were announced as one of the host nations for the FIH Series Finals.
The eight-strong tournament – a venue has yet to be decided – will see two teams move forward to the Olympic play-offs next November.
Ireland v Australia (5pm local time)
Ireland v China (7pm)
Ireland v England (7pm)