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Green Machine O'Donoghue talks World League Semi's

The 21 year old with 27 caps to his names has become an integral part of the squad in recent  times having rose through the ranks at underage level having started his long road to being an Irish Senior International with Dublin based club Glenanne before moving on a sports scholarship to University College Dublin.  Irish Hockey sat down with Shane last Friday in UCD as follows:

Irish Hockey: You head to World League 3 in Rotterdam next week, how have preparations been going so far?

Shane: Preparation has been going quite well, we've had a couple of intensive training camps and tests against Germany were our main source of match preparation. You can't get better preparation that playing a couple of tests against back-to-back Olympic champions on their home soil.

Irish Hockey: How did it feel to beat the Olympic Champions Germany in their own back yard?

Shane: It was absolutely fantastic, definitely a hockey moment I will remember for a long time to come. They had a huge crowd there for the opening of a new pitch so it was a big publicity event so to get a win over them and to play well was a great confidence boost and there was a great buzz around the camp. (note: Shane scored the winner in this game)

Irish Hockey: The squad is missing some key players; do you think they will be missed? How will the absence of Eugene Magee impact the squad?

Shane: Yes, obviously Eugene is a massive loss for us; he's the current most capped Irish Men's international and a fantastic player, one which we would hope to have had in Rotterdam. But his replacement Chris Cargo comes in with 70-odd caps, he's got sheds of experience and I am sure he will bring his strengths to the table along with the rest of the lads. We'll also miss the likes of Mitch Darling, John Jermyn and Geoff McCabe but it's up to us to perform.

Irish Hockey: In terms of opposition in World League Semi-Finals, who will you fear most? What are your chances?

Shane: The biggest thing we have in the squad is that we try not to have that fear factor against the bigger teams, obviously we are somewhat wary of the top teams in the world but we'll give everything we have and try and preform consistently throughout the tournament.

Irish Hockey: How has new coach Andrew Meredith fitted into the programme?

Shane: The new coaching staff have fitted in really well, obviously Andrew came in at the end of last year and he's been a massive difference both for me individually and for the team. He comes from a background of back to back Olympic Champions with Germany so he has loads of experience and buckets of ambition, all the qualities of a coach we need and we are glad to have him on board with his. We're also delighted to have someone of Mick's calibre and experience so in terms of coaching staff we are in a great position.

Irish Hockey: How important is it to start well in the tournament?

Shane: Definitely a big thing for us to start strong and set our stall out early, hopefully if we perform well then the result will follow. The way we play in the first game will dictate how we do in the second, so it's important to start well against India.

Irish Hockey: How realistic is qualification for the World Cup? There is obviously the belief within the squad, how important is the mentality going into the tournament?

Shane: We haven't qualified for a major tournament since I think 1991. But the belief and confidence is there throughout the entire squad and coaches. It's a big thing we look to have in the green machine, we don't doubt our ability or our game-plans, we can play against the top players in the world but we have to believe in the game plan and what tactics the coaches have in place. The belief is there at the moment and we have to make sure that continues in Rotterdam.

Irish Hockey: What are your personal goals for the tournament? Top-scorer?!

Shane: My main goal is obviously to do everything I can for the team in Rotterdam, give everything I have every single time to ensure we achieve our goal of world cup qualification and I know the rest of the lads will be thinking the exact same. Converting penalty corners will be important and if I can drag flick well, then who knows what will happen.

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