Darren Smith will take a largely experimental squad to Terrassa, Spain for a ten-day training camp with eight uncapped players in the panel.
The trip, which runs from January 7 to 16, will include four matches against Spain who are ranked just above Ireland at 14th in what will be the side’s first outing since August’s European championships.
Just 10 of that panel remain with the likes of Zoe Wilson, Emma Duncan, Sara Twomey and Ayeisha McFerran moving up from the Irish U-18s while Kate Lloyd, Yvonne O’Byrne, Chloe Brown and Vanessa Surgeoner brought in to the 27 player panel.Of the Euro squad, Grace O’Flanagan, Nicola Gray, Niamh Small, Shirley McCay, Emma Smyth, Alex Speers, Nikki Symmons and Niamh Atcheler are all rested.
Speaking about the travelling panel, Smith said: “Over the October and November national training block, we selected some new players to join the training which allowed us to look at some of the exciting talent coming through the school, club and age-group programmes and expose them to the senior training sessions”.
“We have asked four outstanding players who played in the U-18 interprovincial tournament to travel to Terrassa and do some work with the senior squad. Kilkenny based Emma Duncan who played as the midfield anchor for South East, Sara Twomey who performed a similar role for Leinster, Ulster defender Zoe Wilson was outstanding throughout the interprovicials in Cork and Ayeisha McFerran who is now amongst the top keepers in Ireland and is proving this in training with the senior squad.”
“These players were outstanding for their provinces and deserve to be involved in Spain next month. What is also exciting is that there are more on the horizon that we definitely have our eye on. I can see this in the national U-18 squad that coach Graeme Francey is trying to narrow down at the moment.”
Speaking about the other uncapped players, Smith added: “Yvonne O’Byrne is a snappy and competitive defender who brings a hard-nosed mind-set to the group. She is a quality tackler and we have been watching her for a while now. Kate [Lloyd], Vanessa[Surgeoner] and Chloe [Brown] are three young strikers who have been training in the group for the past nine months and now deservedly get a chance to show their qualities on the international stage. ”
Once the group finish the nine day camp the players will move back into club hockey before a squad to play in the Champions Challenge is named along with a squad that will train over the summer from April-September.
The tour will be led by Coach Graham Shaw, because Darren is expecting his first child and will remain in Ireland. Darren will be providing support for Graham and the tour via match and tactical analysis and attending meetings via Skype.
Irish Senior squad for Spanish training camp: Pamela Smithwick (GK, Old Alex), Emma Gray (GK, Hermes), Ayeisha McFerran (GK, Randalstown), Kate Dillon (Railway Union), Michelle Harvey (Leuven), Ali Meeke (Loreto), Yvonne O’Byrne (Cork Harlequins), Audrey O’Flynn (Hermes), Cliodhna Sargent (Cork Harlequins), Zoe Wilson (Randalstown), Emily Beatty (UCD), Nicci Daly (Holcombe), Emma Duncan (Old Alex), Megan Frazer (Holcombe), Lisa Jacob (SCHC), Gill Pinder (UCD), Sara Twomey (Hermes), Chloe Watkins (Club de Campo), Naomi Carroll (Catholic Institute), Chloe Brown (Ards), Deidre Duke (UCD), Nikki Evans (UCD), Kate Lloyd (Railway Union), Katie Mullan (UCD), Anna O’Flanagan (UCD), Vanessa Surgeoner (Pegasus)
Coaching/Management for Spain Tour
Head coach: Graham Shaw
Assistant coach: Arlene Boyles
Physiotherapist: Eilis Dolan
Manager: Mary Goode
Trainer: George Petrakos
GK Coach: Nigel Henderson
January 11 – Ireland vs Spain, 4pm (Irish time)
January 12 – Ireland vs Spain, 4pm (Irish time)
January 14 – Ireland vs Spain, 10am (Irish time)
January 15 – Ireland vs Spain, 10am (Irish time)