Banbridge contingent in Irish squad heading to Malaysia

Stephen Dowds, Banbridge and Connor Allison, Annadale
Stephen Dowds, Banbridge and Connor Allison, Annadale

Six players from Banbridge have been named in the Irish squad which flies out to Malaysia on Thursday for the Champions Challenge later this month.

Eugene Magee, winner of 168 Irish caps, will lead the Banbridge sextet of Matthew Bell, Bruce McCandless, Drew Carlisle, Stephen Dowds and Philip Brown.

In fact Ulster have twelve players named out of the eighteen, making it one of the biggest contingents ever named from the province.

Reading and Ulster’s John Jackson will captain the side, which includes Paul Gleghorne (Instonians), Johnny Bell (Lisnagarvey), Michael Robson (Annadale), Cargo (Reading) and Peter Brown (UCD) who is also a former Bann player.

Ireland open the tournament with a tough game against New Zealand, who are ranked 6th in the FIH world rankings, nine places above the Irish.

The ‘Black Sticks’ are in full preparation mode for next month’s World Cup in Holland and they will be favourites to top the Pool.

Commenting on his first international tournament as Coach, Craig Fulton said: “It is exciting to select some new faces and have some of the senior Internationals back for Champions Challenge I.

“It will be a good challenge to test ourselves against higher ranked opposition with New Zealand, Japan (14th) and Poland (18th) in our Pool. The obvious objective is to finish as high as possible.”

The other group includes Korea (7th), Malaysia (13th), Canada (16th) and France (17th).