Irish Hockey has been dealt a severe body blow after it emerged Ian Sloan and David Ames have declared for England and Great Britain.
The Ulster duo – who have over 90 Irish caps between them – have announced they are withdrawing from Irish selection.
Under FIH rules they will be unable to play international hockey for three years from the date of their last match for Ireland – that was back in April 2011, meaning they will have only 28 months to serve.
Sloan said in a statement: “After careful consideration I have decided to withdraw from representing the Ireland men’s hockey team at international level.
“When eligible, I will declare for England and in turn for Great Britain. This has been a difficult decision to make, both on a personal level and on a sporting level, but it is one that I feel is right for me and for my future in the sport.”
Sloan also questioned the structures that are in place with the current Irish set-up and whether they will ever be able to achieve their goal of reaching the Olympics or a top flight tournament.
“During my 10-month spell with the Ireland Team and after the Olympic Qualifiers in Dublin, making the switch was not something that I was considering,” he added.
“However, the sequence of events that have occurred since the departure of former coach Paul Revington, have made me question the probability of sustained success for the Ireland team and also the likelihood of the team consistently competing in major World and European level competitions over the next 12 years.”