Irish coach Darren Smith has named a squad of 20 to travel to the USA and Canada where they will play seven test matches in their final preparations for World League Round 3 in Valencia in June where the Olympic places will be decided.
It is ostensibly the squad that played in World League round two with Yvonne O’Byrne and Chloe Brown added to the mix. UCD quintet Anna O’Flanagan, Katie Mullan, Gillian Pinder, Nikki Evans and Chloe Watkins all come back into the panel having been rested for last weekend’s series against Italy.Deirdre Duke, Emily Beatty and Stella Davis move to the reserves list while Hayley Mulcahy and Michelle Harvey are also stepped down for this trip.
Smith said of his selection: “It is always tough to narrow the squad down for a series but, in this case, we have stuck with the World League 2 team with the addition of Yvonne and Chloe to make a final touring group of 20.
“The three matches against [world number fives] USA will be extremely difficult and give us a great practice toward the upcoming World League 3 in Valencia. We will also welcome the challenge that Canada will bring over four matches in Toronto immediately after we complete the USA leg.
“Canada and Ireland had two hard fought even matches in the recent World League 2 in Dublin and we expect exactly the same sort of contest on their home soil. The seven matches over 10 days will be ideal preparation leading into a demanding World League 3 schedule.”
The World League 3 squad will be selected immediately after the tour at the end of May.
In addition to the 20 players named, coach Smith also added Kate Lloyd, Gemma Frazer, Zoe Wilson, Kerri McDonald and Hayley Mulcahy to the formal Irish training panel for the remainder of the year.
“Congratulations to Kate, Zoe, Hayley, Kerri and Gemma who deserve their selection after strong performances in club, regional and age-group international hockey,” Smith added.
“This squad will be complimented with a development group of 10 or 12 who will be named over the coming weeks and finalised after the national Under-18 team completes in the European Cup in July.”
Irish women’s panel for USA/Canada tour (May 14-28): Chloe Brown(Ards), Naomi Carroll (Catholic Institute), Lizzie Colvin (Loreto), Aine Connery (Hermes), Nicci Daly (Loreto), Kate Dillon (Railway Union), Nikki Evans (UCD), Megan Frazer (Ulster Elks), Emma Gray (Hermes), Shirley McCay (Ulster Elks), Ayeisha McFerran (Pegasus), Hannah Matthews (Loreto), Ali Meeke (Loreto), Katie Mullan (UCD), Yvonne O’Byrne (Cork Harlequins), Anna O’Flanagan (UCD), Gillian Pinder (UCD), Cliodhna Sargent (Cork Harlequins), Emma Smyth (Railway Union), Chloe Watkins (UCD)
Non travelling reserves: Emily Beatty (UCD), Deirdre Duke (UCD), Stella Davis (Pembroke Wanderers)
Added to national training panel: Gemma Frazer (Ulster Elks), Kate Lloyd (Railway Union), Hayley Mulcahy (Loreto), Kerri McDonald (Ards), Zoe Wilson (Randalstown)
May 18: Ireland vs USA, Spooky Nook, Lancaster PA
May 19: Ireland vs USA, Spooky Nook, Lancaster PA
May 21: Ireland vs USA, Spooky Nook, Lancaster PA
May 23: Ireland vs Canada, Toronto
May 24: Ireland vs Canada, Toronto
May 26: Ireland vs Canada, Toronto
May 27: Ireland vs Canada, Toronto