Ireland’s senior women will face Spain in a four-match series next week in Belfast with a pair of games in Stormont and the other two ties taking place in Jordanstown.
There is a glut of changes from the side that produced a superb fifth place finish at the Hawkes Bay Cup in April with nine players coming into the extended panel of 22 while five step out for this series.Coach Graham Shaw said “We are delighted to welcome Spain to Ireland in their preparation for Rio. It is a great opportunity for us to play in front of a home crowd. With Injuries and players unavailable, we will make changes from Hawkes Bay.
“This gives players in a test game environment to showcase their skills and ability therefore strengthening their position within our squad.”
Anna May Whelan could become Trinity’s first international since Linda Caulfield earned her first cap in 1999 while still on books. She, along with UCD’s Aisling Naughton, are in line to make their senior international debuts while Stella Davis comes into the goalkeeping reckoning in place of Pam Smithwick alongside Ayeisha McFerran.
Gemma Frazer, Lizzie Colvin, Ali Meeke, Chloe Brown, Hayley Mulcahy and Kate Lloyd all come back into the squad. Cliodhna Sargent, Gillian Pinder, Lena Tice and Nicci Daly all step out while Shirley McCay remains out injured.
The two sides sit side by side in the world rankings with Spain holding 14th place, one spot above the Green Army. The two teams last faced each other in Valencia in January which saw Spain secure victory twice before the Green Army won the final match 3-2.
Since then Spain have been preparing for the Olympics, while Ireland finished above their ranking with an impressive performance in Hawkes Bay Cup, toppling two Olympic sides along the way.
Ireland women’s panel for series with Spain: Ayeisha McFerran (Louisville University), Stella Davis (Pembroke), Hannah Matthews (Loreto), Yvonne O’Byrne (Cork Harlequins), Gemma Frazer (Ulster Elks), Zoe Wilson (Randalstown), Anna May Whelan (Trinity), Megan Frazer (Ulster Elks), Lizzie Colvin (Loreto), Chloe Watkins (Hermes), Katie Mullan (UCD), Emily Beatty (UCD), Chloe Brown (Ards), Anna O’Flanagan (Hermes), Nikki Evans (Hermes), Deirdre Duke (UCD), Naomi Carroll (Hermes), Kate Lloyd (UCD), Hayley Mulcahy (Loreto), Sinead Loughran (Hermes), Aisling Naughton (UCD), Ali Meeke (Loreto)
June 6: Ireland v Spain, 7.30pm, Stormont
June 7: Ireland v Spain, 7.30pm, Stormont
June 9: Ireland v Spain, 12pm, Jordanstown
June 10: Ireland v Spain, 11am, Jordanstown