LISNAGARVEY were deprived of their last ‘warm up’ match for their European Hockey League Knock Out 16 beginning on Friday in Amsterdam.
Their last Premier League game, due to be played last Saturday against Annadale fell foul of the atrocious weather over the week end but now they can train their sights on their European adventure.
The 16 man squad has been preparing hard for a number of weeks and are looking forward to a completely new experience as the first Ulster team and second Irish team to make KO 16 and they are totally aware of the quality of the opposition facing them on Friday.
The composition of the last 16 is a’ whos who’ of the best hockey clubs in Europe, the cream of the Dutch, German, Spanish and English teams will all be turning up to play in the famous Wagener Stadium the home of Amsterdam Hockey Club aiming for a place in the last 8 of this fabulous competition which is now is it’s fifth year.
Garvey face a daunting task on Friday evening when they play the Dragons from Belgium at 5pm. Their opponents have an incredible record in this tournament, having never lost a match in normal time in the years of their participation and finishing in third place last season to become Belgium’s first medal winner in the history of European hockey. In doing so they defeated one of Europe’s outstanding club sides, Rotterdam, in the third place play-off.
Recent form would suggest that Garvey have little chance of progressing to last eight where they would play against either the aforementioned Rotterdam or English champions Reading. However no-one gave them a chance of making the trip to Amsterdam for the second stage of the competition but after spirited performances against Lille and Bloemandaal in East Grinstead perhaps another minor miracle is possible.
Coach Kyle Lunn and captain Jonny Bell will be looking for a very special effort on Friday and will, as always, be depending on the vast experience of goalkeeper John Tormey, defender Brian Waring, Mark Raphael in mid field and the talent of Timmy Cockram in attack.
However, these players will have to be supported by the younger members of the squad and it is a great opportunity for very talented Daniel Buser, Peter MacDonnell and Andy Forrest to make a name for themselves at the highest level.
This will be Garvey,s 15th trip to Europe since 1970 and on each occasion they have produced performances well above average and once again fans will be expecting this team to raise their game and give the large support due in Amsterdam a performance to be proud of just as they did in East Grinstead.
There are close to 100 club members making the trip from various directions and will be guaranteed a superb week end 1in the natural home of European hockey at a magnificent venue in the exciting city of Amsterdam.
GARVEY SQUAD: Jonny Bell (captain), Steven Arbuthnot (vice captain), John Tormey, Brian Waring, Richard Arneill, Johnny Quigley, Peter MacDonnell, Mark Raphael, Daniel Buser, Andy Forrest, Greg Thompson, Timmy Cockram, Stuart McNiece, Andy McCann, Philip Stirling and second goalkeeper Luke Campbell.
Kyle Lunn will be head coach assisted by Errol Lutton while Nigel Howard is manager and Chris Bleakley acts as the team physiotherapist