Dowds joins Bruce in Ireland squad

STEPHEN Dowds has joined Bruce McCandless in the senior Irish squad for a series of matches against Canada which is to be held in the grounds of Stormont on 19-20 April 2011.

It is the first time that the youngester has been elevated to this level and he now has the opportunity to earn himself a first cap.

Dowds was always destined to gain full international recognition sooner rather than later after being one of the stand-out players in his age group throughout the Junior Age Group teams .

He has won many accolades for his performances at various levels over the last five years, including being top goalscorer at a European Under-16 Championships and helping an under-18 team to European B Gold in Austria in 2009.

Although currently out injured, Dowd’s is hoping to return to first team action within a fortnight and in doing so put himself in with a chance of earning that first cap.

He will have plenty of chances to impress national coach Paul Revington as Bann are into the semi-finals of both of the major Irish Trophies – the Irish Senior Cup on 16 April and the Irish Hockey League on 30 April.

If Stephen Dowds does earn his first cap, he will become the 33rd player from Banbridge Hockey Club to earn representative honours, whils also becoming the third youngest behind the famed McGladdery and Magee. Interestingly he will also become the fifth current playing member to be capped at senior level, a feat never before gained by the Club.

Somewhat surprisingly, in a squad which contains 8 potential new caps, there were no call-up’s for some of the other highly rated Banbridge youngsters who will have to wait a little longer to gain recognition.