Harvey back, Mulcahy in line for debut against Italy

Irish coach Darren Smith will shuffle his deck for a three test series with Italy on April 16, 18 and 19 in Ireland with Michelle Harvey back in the panel for the first time in 11 months while Hayley Mulcahy is set to make a debut.

Michelle Harvey returns to the Irish panel. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Michelle Harvey returns to the Irish panel. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Harvey was last part of the national team for the Champions Challenge in Glasgow in May 2014, part of the side that won a silver medal. Since then, she has become one of the top scorers in the Belgian league with Leuven and could offer an important drag-flicking option as well as plenty of defensive experience.

Coach Smith says she “has been in excellent form and deserves the opportunity to stake a claim on a position for World League 3 in June.”

Mulcahy, meanwhile, is rewarded for a fine club season with Loreto and has impressed in training camps. She will try and make a late claim for a forward berth in the World League semi-final panel.

Twelve of the World League Round Two panel remain with five UCD players – Katie Mullan, Chloe Watkins, Anna O’Flanagan, Nikki Evans and Gillian Pinder – rested after a hectic period which sees them play the EuroHockey Club Champions Cup in Bilthoven this weekend and subsequently the IHL finals – making it three big tournaments in as many weeks.

Goalkeeper Emma Gray is the other player to step out with Stella Davis coming back in. The other players to return are Chloe Brown, Emily Beatty, Deirdre Duke and Yvonne O’Byrne who are all part of the central training group.

Smith described Italy as a team with “skill and flair, which means that the matches will be quality to watch.”

Italy have risen to number 16 in the world in recent times and won their World League round 2 in Uruguay in emphatic fashion, beating the hosts 4-0 in the final and Azerbaijan by the same score in the semis.

Irish women’s squad for Italy series (April 16,18 and 19): Emily Beatty (UCD), Chloe Brown (Ards), Naomi Carroll (Catholic Institute), Lizzie Colvin (Loreto), Aine Connery (Hermes), Nicci Daly (Loreto), Kate Dillon (Railway Union), Stella Davis (Pembroke Wanderers), Deirdre Duke (UCD), Megan Frazer (Ulster Elks), Michelle Harvey (Leuven, Belgium), Hannah Matthews (Loreto), Shirley McCay (Ulster Elks), Ayeisha McFerran (Pegasus), Ali Meeke (Loreto), Hayley Mulcahy (Loreto), Yvonne O’Byrne (Cork Harlequins), Cliodnha Sargent (Cork Harlequins), Emma Smyth (Railway Union)

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