Two of Mossley Hockey Club’s young stars are gearing up to represent Ulster at this weekend’s Under-21 Interprovincial Series in Dublin.
Midfielder Neal Glassey and goalkeeper Ben McMillan are part of Stephen Cuddy’s 18-strong panel who will compete against their Leinster and Munster counterparts, as well as the Irish Under-18s boys’ squad.
Glassey, 19, Ulster’s vice-captain, says he’s looking to getting down to work at the Three Rock Rovers Hockey Club.
“The Interpros are always a highlight of my season; it’s a chance to come together with the top players in the province at a specific age group with a neutral coach who adds his own style to the time we have,” he said.
“Tournament hockey is different from club hockey as we will play three games in as many days, with the mentality that we can’t drop any points. I haven’t won an Interpros since Under-16 level, and in my last two tournaments as a team we’ve narrowly missed out on the top spot. So, year by year, I’m always looking forward to this competition.”
“I’m always pleased to be involved with any Ulster squad and this year is no exception. In 2013 I got a taster for the Interpros at Under-21 level and this time I just want to perform the same as I aim to do for Mossley each week.”
Having a familiar face alonsgide him, in club-mate McMillan, is also very important to Glassey.
“Ben being in the squad shows how Mossley can produce players to compete at this level.
“Having played with him at the tournament last year, as well as three seasons with the Mossley team, we have a great relationship which is based around hockey, the progression of each other’s ability and, generally, being good friends.
“Personally, I’m pleased whenever I see Mossley’s club name mentioned twice on the squad list.”
And Glassey believes Cuddy’s men have the strength in depth, talent and grit to go all the way and be crowned champions this year.
“This Ulster squad is capable of winning the title this year, I truly believe.
“We have three full internationals, as well as 10 squad members who are on the Irish Under-21 panel. The hockey ability is most definitely there. With Cuddy’s style, we all believe we have what it takes to win at Three Rock Rovers.”
For Glassey the Interpros are an important part of the process of realising his ambitions in the game he loves. He wants to get his hands on silverware at The Glade and has dreams of playing in the Irish Men’s senior team.
“I have a few big ambitions in hockey, on a club level I want to win silverware with Mossley. They are my local club and I have played at for around 14 years; that’s an ambition most definitely,” he said.
“I want to represent Ireland at senior international level and that process all starts with the Four Nations Tournament which is being held at Mossley the week after the Interpros. An Irish U21 teamwill be competing at it with the squad being selected on the Sunday of Interpros. It’s something I want to be a part of with the Under-21 Europeans coming up in July. It’s a big year for this age group.”