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Monday 28 July 2014

Hockey: Ireland raring to go despite searing heat of Buenos Aires

David Medcalf

Published 22/11/2012|05:00

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The Irish men's team have been given police escorts through the streets of Buenos Aires this week on their way to training sessions.

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But the boys in green will be left to their own defence on Saturday night when they play their Argentinian hosts in the opening round of the Champions Challenge.

The Irish have had to adapt to the heat – 30 plus degrees – since arriving on Monday.

New coach Andrew Meredith included a midday training game as part of the preparations, ensuring his players will be ready to deal with the conditions in Tuesday's final pool games against South Africa.

His only slight injury worry to date has been a Geoff McCabe dislocated finger.

Meredith's squad will certainly not lack motivation as they count down to the world ranking event, for which they so nearly missed the plane.

The cash-strapped Irish Hockey Association caused a furore in domestic hockey when they announced that they were withdrawing from the trip to South America.

The response from fans was to raise the money needed to fund the Champions Challenge outing within a matter of days.

Ireland have landed in the same half of the draw as Argentina (Saturday, 8.30pm, Irish time), Japan (Sunday 6.0pm) and South Africa (Tuesday 4.30pm) in an event that is bound to be fiercely contested.

Both Argentina and South Africa contested the London Olympics, while Japan, at 16th, are just one place behind Ireland in the world rankings.

Kiwi Smith gets nod to manage women's team

New Zealander Darren Smith has been named as the new coach of the Ireland women's team.

Smith spent six years as assistant coach to the New Zealand men's team, who recently finished ninth at the London Olympics.

The former Kiwi international also brings vast playing experience, having represented New Zealand on 212 occasions as a player.

"I'm very honoured to be given the opportunity to work with the Green Army towards the Rio 2016 Olympics," Smith said.

"This is a group of players who have been committed to making an impact on the international stage for some time and were within one match of being at the London Olympics."

Irish Independent

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