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Ireland men's hockey team begin World Cup campaign against top seeds Australia

Ireland, captained by Katie Mullan (centre), were surprise finalists at the Women's Hockey World Cup last summer and Ireland's men hope to follow in their footsteps
Andy Watters

THE Ireland Men's Hockey side begin their quest to emulate the success of the ladies' when they begin their World Cup campaign in India against top seeds Australia this morning.

The ‘Green Machine' hasn't featured at this stage in 28 years but they are determined to prove their worth in the two-week tournament which began in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday and will continue until the December 16 final.

The Alexander Cox-managed side are in Pool B alongside the Aussies, China (ranked 17th) and England (seventh).

Team skipper Jonny Bell is one of a number of Ulster players in a side that also includes former Ballela and Down hurler Eugene Magee. Lisnagarvey defender Cox says Ireland, who qualified for the tournament thanks to a 1-0 win over New Zealand, are determined to defy the odds.

"We've shown in the past, that even with our minimal resources, we can still beat teams ranked higher than us," he said.

"We've done that to qualify for the Olympic Games and for this World Cup.

"Our team is constantly about defying the odds, circling the wagons and putting in massive performances."

In August the Ireland women's team ripped the pre-World Cup formbook to shreds by making the final. Cox says their success has inspired him and his team-mates.

"It just brings that added attention to hockey, which is fantastic and has really increased the profile of hockey in Ireland,” he said.

"We, as a hockey community, need to capitalise on that. Hopefully now we can go out and back up what the girls did in London and give a really good showing."

Australia will complete a first ever World Cup three in-a-row with victory in this year's tournament but Cox says Ireland are determined to push them all the way in the opener.

"Defensively, we are a strong unit right across the pitch. We try to build on that and use our counter attack,” he said.

“We have a very good drag-flicker, a very good penalty-corner set piece that I think can rival any in the world. We've a very strong deep defence and we've a lot of speed on the counter attack."

Fixtures

Ireland v Australia (today, November 30, 11.30am, BT Sport 1); Ireland v China (Tuesday, December 4, 1.30pm, BT Sport 1); Ireland v England (Friday, December 7, 1.30pm, BT Sport 1).

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