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Mullan excited to see Ireland young guns being ‘unleashed’

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'We have tried to get ahead of the curve, using the experience we have in the group [from 2018],' says Ireland’s Katie Mullan. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

'We have tried to get ahead of the curve, using the experience we have in the group [from 2018],' says Ireland’s Katie Mullan. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

'We have tried to get ahead of the curve, using the experience we have in the group [from 2018],' says Ireland’s Katie Mullan. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

'We have tried to get ahead of the curve, using the experience we have in the group [from 2018],' says Ireland’s Katie Mullan. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

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'We have tried to get ahead of the curve, using the experience we have in the group [from 2018],' says Ireland’s Katie Mullan. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Katie Mullan says she is excited to see Ireland’s young guns “unleash themselves” on the biggest stage as they begin their World Cup campaign this evening against No 1 side the Netherlands in Amsterdam.

While 2018 brought memories of a lifetime for five of the current panel, this edition is very much a journey into the unknown for a large chunk of this Green Army cohort.

Charlotte Beggs, Katie McKee, Caoimhe Perdue and Christina Hamill are all set to make their formal debuts in Amsterdam against the reigning world, European and Olympic champions in front of a sold-out 9,500 Wagener Stadium audience.

There are few bigger stages in world hockey and it could well be a daunting occasion but captain Mullan says it has formed much of their pre-tournament team talks.

“We have tried to get ahead of the curve, using the experience we have in the group [from 2018],” the Coleraine woman says of the changing of the guard with over 1,500 caps of experience stepping back in the wake of the Tokyo Olympics.

“Every team going to the World Cup has experienced a similar situation with the Olympics only being last year. There’s been a number of players retire across world hockey.

“Everyone is on a level playing field in that sense. We have huge excitement in our uncapped players and they are playing with so much freedom which is fantastic for us to see. Excited for them to unleash themselves and I cannot wait to see their response.

“They are bringing so much freedom and excitement to the game; that is rubbing off on us more experienced players.”

The Dutch game may be a case of damage limitation – it has been eight meeting since Ireland last scored against them and the oranje have netted four times each time the sides have met this millennium.

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But the next two games will likely be far more definitive if Ireland are to finish in the top three of the four-team group and advance to the play-off series.

On Tuesday, Ireland will face Chile, who are playing in their maiden World Cup, before they come up against Germany who, while ranked sixth in the world, are a side who always seem to give Ireland a chance. Only a late goal in Tokyo killed off Irish hopes of a spectacular result.

“What an amazing spectacle to play the host nation in the opening game of a World Cup!” Mullan says of the group. “That evening match in Amsterdam will be an incredible spectacle. We have to turn around quickly between the Chile and Germany game. Tournament hockey, the games happen so close so you just have to control your emotions from one game to the next, whether it’s a high or a low.

“We want to focus on performing and, for us, getting out of the group is a huge goal. To do that, we have to move on quickly from each game. We know, in some ways, are a bit like ourselves from the previous World Cup. It is their first time and they will be very excited and well tuned into us. We have to be prepared for that but very much focused on ourselves.

The good news from a coverage perspective – highlighted by Sinéad Kissane in the Irish Independent this week – is an 11th-hour deal between RTÉ and BT Sport means the Irish national broadcaster has picked up the rights to show next Tuesday’s game against Chile and Wednesday’s battle with Germany on the RTÉ News Now channel.  Otherwise, viewers can watch each game via BT Sport.

Ireland – A McFerran (goalkeeper, SV Kampong (NED), 113 caps), E Murphy (goalkeeper, Loreto, 13), C Perdue (UCC, 0), C Beggs (Ulster Elks, 0), C Hamill (Loreto, 0), D Duke (Old Alex, 154), E Curran (Pembroke, 27), E Getty (Queen’s, 11), H McLoughlin (UCD, 26), K McKee (Pegasus, 0), K Mullan (captain, Ballymoney, 206), L Tice (Old Alex, 122), M Carey (UCD, 10), N Carroll (Catholic Institute, 121), R Upton (vice-captain, Catholic Institute, 89), S Hawkshaw (Railway Union, 46), S McAuley (UCD, 9), S Torrans (Loreto, 33), S O’Brien (Loreto, 0), Z Malseed (Ards, 7).

Group A (Irish time): July 2, Ireland v Netherlands, 6.30; July 5, Ireland v Chile, 1.0; July 6, Ireland v Germany, 3.30


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