IRISH HOCKEY IS reeling following the decisions of two players to withdraw from representing the green jersey and declare, instead, for Great Britain.
David Ames, 23, and Ian Sloan, 19, have announced their intentions to fight it out for selection with the England and Great Britain sides when they become eligible in two years.
The Cookstown duo, who represented Ireland at the Olympic qualifiers in Dublin in March 2012, are both playing the game in England.
They were not part of the Irish hockey squad that travelled to the Champions Challenge in Argentina in November, sparking fears that they could follow in the footsteps of fellow Ulstermen Iain Lewers and Mark Gleghorne.
A statement from the Irish Hockey Association read, “The IHA have been formally notified that Senior International players David Ames and Ian Sloan have declared to play for England and Great Britain and as result have withdrawn themselves from selection for the Ireland Senior Men’s Team.”
It concluded, “[We] are disappointed to lose both David and Ian but wish them both well in their future hockey careers.”
Ames and Sloan will have to wait until April 2015 before they can represent Great Britain following a three-year exclusionary period for players choosing to swap countries.
In a press release on behalf of Ames, the player states, “Having had a break from International hockey over the last number of months, I have made the decision to withdraw from representing Ireland and declare for England.
“It has been an extremely tough decision both in terms of a life choice and hockey choice, but one I feel at this point in time is the right thing for me to do.”
Ames adds, “I have many goals and aspirations for my hockey career that I want to try and achieve.
“The Olympics is a high ambition of mine, not just to play in, but to also challenge for medals. It is also my ambition to play in more high-level competitions such as the World Cup, Champions Trophy, and the Commonwealth Games, and in order to give myself this chance, now is the best time to declare for England.
It may seem a very selfish move but unfortunately competing at International level doesn’t last too long in a player’s life time and so to have more of an opportunity to compete at these high level events, would give me a sense of accomplishment in what I want to achieve in my short hockey career.
“I do not want to finish my career regretting not giving myself the best opportunity to play hockey at the highest level possible.”