The IHA has confirmed the Irish women’s build-up for the World Cup qualifiers in Chile, which gets underway in late April.
Gene Muller’s squad will travel to Spain, Belgium, England and France in the next three months, playing at least eight international fixtures in order to prepare for the qualifiers.
They begin by travelling to Alicante tomorrow for a week-long training camp before moving Nivelles, Belgium for two fixtures in early February. Three matches against England in Bisham take place from February 22 to 24 before Ireland take on the Celtic Cup in Nice, France from March 5 to 7.
Coach Muller said ahead of the Spanish training camp he is pleased to get an intense week of training time in at this stage: “Our WCQ preparations kick off with a week-long training camp in Alicante. This affords us the opportunity to train without distraction and competing demands for a week.
“We have settled on a World Cup Qualifier squad of 24 players so for these players the hard work is just beginning. We have a series of short competition events after we return from Spain which does not include a large training component, so this makes our time in Spain event more significant.”
It is expected that Muller will announce his World Cup Qualifier a week after the Celtic Cup. Squad members have not been precluded from playing domestic league and cup fixtures but their involvement is likely to be curtailed to a large extent by the extensive training schedule.
Ireland squad: Niamh Atcheler (Hermes), Lauren Barr (Ballymoney), Emma Clarke (Leicester), Bridget Cleland (Ballymoney), Eimear Cregan (Cork Harlequins), Lizzie Colvin (Loreto), Nicci Daly (Loreto), Roisin Flinn (Old Alex), Mary Goode (Bray), Michelle Harvey (Pegasus), Louisa Healy (Loreto), Lisa Jacob (UCD), Shirley McCay (Dragons), Rachel Mulligan (Armagh), Audrey O’Flynn (UCC), Julia O’Halloran (UCC), Cliodhna Sargent (Cork Harlequins), Niamh Small (Loreto), Emma Smyth (Railway Union), Alex Speers (Dragons), Helen Stevenson (Railway Union), Nikki Symmons (Loreto)
Unavailable for Alicante training camp: Megan Frazer (University of Maryland) and Emma Stewart (Armagh)
February, Friday 5: Ireland vs Belgium, Nivelles
February, Sunday 7: Ireland vs Belgium, Nivelles
February, Monday 22: Ireland vs England, Bisham
February, Tuesday 23: Ireland vs England, Bisham
February, Wednesday 24: Ireland vs England, Bisham
March, Friday 5 to Sunday 7: Senior Celtic Cup, Nice
All fixture times to be confirmed