Stella Davis and Hannah Matthews are the two uncapped players named in Darren Smith’s extended panel of 25 for Ireland’s series of 17 games this summer.
It follows the side’s hugely successful run to a silver medal in the Champions Challenge I in Glasgow earlier this month. Focus now turns to the World League round two that Ireland will host next March, the second phase in the Olympic qualifying process.
The squad draws largely from the Glasgow panel with only Belgian-based defender Michelle Harvey – who has agreed to play a second season in Leuven – not retained. Matthews and Yvonne O’Byrne will be battling to try and replace her long-term.
For goalkeeper Davis, she has made a big jump up the queue after a brilliant season with Pembroke on the club scene. She joins well-established number one Emma Gray and schoolgirl Ayeisha McFerran in the panel with Grace O’Flanagan – number two at the 2013 European Championships – and Pamela Smithwick missing out.
The rangy Vanessa Surgeoner adds to the forward options along with Aine Connery who is back in the panel after last weekend’s trials. The Kilkenny woman top-scored in the Leinster league for Hermes, netting some breath-taking efforts and, with her camogie background, provides something different in terms of skill-set.
Former captain Alex Speers is available again but Megan Frazer will retain the armband.
There are some high profile absences, though, as Nikki Symmons on-going studies in Switzerland rule her out while Lisa Jacob has opted to pursue a career in rugby 7s after a year playing hockey in the Netherlands.
Lizzie Colvin’s anterior cruciate knee ligament injury means she is still out, too, having missed the entire domestic season.
From last weekend’s three-day trial panel, Niamh Small, Jenna Holmes and Kate Lloyd also missed out but Darren Smith said that players will still be monitored back in the club environment over the coming season.
“Naming this squad has been extremely tough and in the players that have been left out for 2014 we know that there is quality,” he said.
“What we hope is that they will go back to their club environment and push again for selection in the future. I’m delighted for the new athletes as first selection is an exciting and rewarding time. I now encourage all 25 members to understand that this is just the beginning and we expect everyone within the Green Army environment to drive toward on field performance.”
Smith also added that he, along with selectors Arlene Boyles, Graham Shaw and Mary Logue, will keep an eye on the progress of the underage panels to see if players emerge.
Speaking specifically about the newer faces in the panel, he said: “Congratulations to Chloe Brown [who made her debut earlier this year against Spain] and Vanessa Surgeoner who both come off the back of solid club seasons with Ards and Pegasus respectively.
“They are very talented hockey players with room to develop even further. Yvonne O’Byrne is a fit and hungry player, she defends tough and brings a high work rate. We have been impressed with Yvonne especially in the National training environment.
“Hannah played well for Loreto in the Irish Hockey League. She also came to the national trials and delivered a work rate, basic skill set and determination that we were impressed with”
Speaking about the goalkeeping shake-up, Smith added: “Ayeisha McFerran is an extremely talented keeper who is not only one for the future but, in our opinion, is delivering consistently high performances right now, with Stella we feel she had a good club season and has trained well with the National Squad over the past three months. She has speed, mobility and which we feel can be developed to an even higher level.”
Irish senior women’s panel: Emily Beatty (UCD), Chloe Brown (Ards), Naomi Carroll (Catholic Institute), Aine Connery (Hermes), Nicci Daly (Holcombe), Stella Davis (Pembroke), Kate Dillon (Railway Union), Deirdre Duke (UCD), Nikki Evans (UCD), Megan Frazer (captain, Holcombe), Emma Gray (Hermes), Hannah Matthews (Loreto), Shirley McCay (Old Alex), Ayeisha McFerran (Randalstown), Ali Meeke (Loreto), Katie Mullan (UCD), Yvonne O’Byrne (Cork Harelquins), Anna O’Flanagan (UCD), Audrey O’Flynn (Hermes), Gillian Pinder (UCD), Cliodhna Sargent (Vice Captain, Cork Harelquins), Emma Smyth (Railway Union), Alex Speers (Railway Union), Vanessa Surgeoner (Pegasus), Chloe Watkins (Club De Campo)
** Senior Women
Tri-Nations, Mori, Italy (Ireland/Wales/Italy)
Thursday, June 26: Ireland vs Italy, 5.30pm
Friday, June 27: Ireland vs Wales, 5.30pm
Sunday, June 29: Ireland vs Italy, 3pm (Test match)
Women’s Four Nations, Ireland (Ireland/New Zealand/Chile/Canada)
Saturday, July 12: Ireland v New Zealand/Canada v Chile
Sunday, July 13: Ireland v Canada/New Zealand v Chile
Tuesday, July 15: Ireland v Chile/Canada v New Zealand
Wednesday, July 16: Classification Matches.
Tri-Nations tournament I, Dublin (Ireland/Spain/France)
Wednesday, August 13: Spain v France
Thursday, August 14: Ireland v Spain
Friday, August 15: Ireland v France
Saturday, August 16: Spain v France
Sunday, August 17: Ireland v Spain
Monday, August 18: Ireland v France
Tuesday, August 19: Spain v France
Wednesday, August 20: Ireland v Spain
Thursday, August 21: Ireland v France
Three-Test series, Dublin
Sunday, September 21: Ireland v Italy
Monday, September 22: Ireland v Italy
Wednesday, September 24: Ireland v Italy