UCD – Women’s Division One preview

Last Season: First, Division One; Irish Senior Cup winners; Jacqui Potter Cup winners; 3rd in IHL group
Coach: Jonathan Harte (3rd season)

Players In: Katie Mullan (Ballymoney), Nikki Evans (Railway Union), Emily Beatty (Old Alex)
Players Out: Zoe Ennis (Loreto), Deirdre Duke (Northeastern University, USA), Noelle Farrell (England), Stella Davis, Laura Wilson

Summary: With the methods employed by the Irish women’s panel and the subsequent availability of international players still very much unknown, Jonathan Harte’s planning process for the season remains wholly up in the air.

With Katie Mullan and Nikki Evans signed up and off the back of their treble success last season, UCD are on paper by a distance the stand-out side in Leinster. But, how much Harte gets to use that duo, along with fellow internationals Chloe Watkins, Niamh Atcheler, Nicola Gray, Anna O’Flanagan and Brenda Flannery is the big concern. They will not be in situ before the Champions Challenge while Sarah Greene is another who could be out from time to time. Managing the disruption to training patterns will also be a tough but enviable task to manage.

Emily Beatty has been added to their list of Irish U-21 starlets, offering a good replacement for US-bound Deirdre Duke, offering pace to the flanks. But the departure of Stella Davis has made for a goalkeeping dilemma with former St Andrew’s keeper Tiffany Ellis or Alex Shirlow vying in preseason for the spot. With Noelle Farrell moving to England and Laura Wilson graduated, it trims the options should the internationals be unavailable long-term.

Indeed, in tandem with the regular J1 delays, UCD have played a limited part in preseason prior to last weekend. On their day, they look to have the strongest panel and are likely to be involved at the business end of the IHL and Irish Senior Cup but whether they can retain their Leinster double may actually prove a tougher ask. Jeamie Deacon will be a central figure as will the likes of Caroline Hill and Kate Collins-Smyth in the Irish player’s absence.

Early season fixtures: Pembroke (a), Sept 22
Twitter: @UCDLadiesHockey

Women's Leinster Senior Div 1