Tyrrell’s youthful Under-21 blues raise seasonal curtain

The new Irish hockey season tips off in Donabate with the Under-21 men’s and women’s interprovincial tournaments taking in a new spot in the calendar.

Despite the change of dates, the competition returns to its traditional one-weekend format with Leinster – albeit in the absence of Ulster – looking to retain both titles. For the women in blue, Chris Tyrrell is the coach and he is looking forward to the competition and the talent that is available to him as he looks to retain the title.

Sara Twomey will captain the Leinster Under-21s. Pic: Adrian Boehm[/caption]“As can be imagined, an Under-21 training and selection process that takes place during the summer is going to be impacted by players, understandably, being out of the country. It is a testament to the depth of quality in the province that, even with this being the case, there is plenty of talent to choose from.”

To this end, a couple of big names were not available for selection for a variety of reasons – Irish senior star Lena Tice among them – but there is still quality in the panel.

The Blues have an extremely young team for an Under-21 squad. Two players, Katherine Egan and Erica Markey, are still in school with a further six – Amber Barnwell, Ava Beatty, Sally Campbell, Emma Mathews, Ellen Curran and Sarah O’Loughlin – are just going into college.

Sara Twomey will captain the Leinster Under-21s. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Sara Twomey will captain the Leinster Under-21s. Pic: Adrian Boehm

More than half of the 18 will still be eligible to return at this age group next year. The team is captained by Sara Twomey who previously captained the province at Under-18 level and already played for the Irish Under-21s two years ago.

Vice-captain of the side is Sarah Patton of Hermes-Monkstown whose sister Orla also played for the Under-21s previously. Ellen Curran is the sole player to be stepping up from the Irish U18 squad that successfully retained their A division status in July down in Cork.

Markey is the only member of the squad to be representing the province for the first time. The Santa Sabina schoolgirl has been impressive throughout the summer and has linked up well with her fellow forwards in the warm up games against Pembroke and Railway Union. Clodagh Cassin and Emma Duncan, meanwhile, previously represented the South East.

It will be Tyrrell’s last coaching act before emigrating to Canada after five years working with Under-21 interpro teams. He is backed up by Ciara Leech of Muckross as manager for the first time while Alan McLoughlin is the assistant.

It is the Glenanne man’s first involvement with the Under-21s as well but he was the coach of the recently successful Leinster Juniors side.

Speaking about the squad, Tyrrell said: “Everyone in the squad has worked extremely hard not just in Leinster trainings but also on their own to try reach the required fitness levels.

“The challenge of playing three competitive matches in three days, weeks before most players’ seasons kicks off is not a small one. Whatever happens in the tournament itself, it is hoped the players involved can use it as the perfect springboard to great individual years.

“This is a young but talented Under 21 side full of players with bright futures. All three matches are going to be tough, tough games but if we get the balance right I’ve no doubt this team can play some great hockey.”

Ulster return to the competition with a similarly young side. Kerrie and Rachel Burns, Rosie Henderson, Alana Doyle, Jessica McMaster and Erin Getty all move up from the Irish Under-18s in a side that features three of the Pegasus side that reach the EYHL final.

Like Tice’s absence, Zoe Wilson is an eligibly aged senior international who is not involved.

For Munster, Irish Under-18 captain Emma Buckley steps up as does Michelle Barry while UCC’s Emma Barber will be their key defender. Connacht will look to the likes of Ellie Noone to power their charge.

Women’s Under-21 Interprovincial series (all at Donabate LC)
Connacht v Leinster, 6pm; Munster v Ulster 8pm
Saturday: Ulster v Connacht, 12pm; Munster v Leinster, 4pm
Sunday: Connacht v Munster, 12pm; Ulster v Leinster, 4pm

Squad lists (*clubs based on lists posted on the respective province’s websites)
Alannah Carragher (Corinthian), Clodagh Cassin (UCD), Amber Barnwell (Hermes-Monkstown), Ava Beatty (UCD), Sally Campbell (Hermes-Monkstown), Sorcha Clarke (UCD), Ellen Curran (Hermes-Monkstown), Emma Duncan (UCD), Katherine Egan (Old Alex), Rachel Gray (UCD), Erica Markey (Suttonians), Emma Mathews (Muckross), Hannah McKay (UCD), Sarah O’Loughlin (Loreto), Sarah Patton (Hermes-Monkstown), Sara Quill (Trinity), Anna Richardson (Avoca), Sara Twomey (UCD)

Leah Casey, Catherine Clancy, Sarah Donnellan, Kelly Dunleavy, Laoise Fagan, Meghan Forde, Rebecca Gilligan, Kate Hennessy, Rachel Heskin, Lilian Matthews, Aine McGann, Alice Meagher, Sorcha Minihan, Ellie Noone (c), Millie Passmore, Michaela van der Walt, Cara Withero

Emma Buckley (Cork Harlequins), Kate Murphy (UCC), Becky Danaher (UCC), Emma Barber (UCC), Saoirse O’Leary (UCC), Judy Mills (Cork Harlequins), Kate Crotty (Leinster), Katie Desmond (Bandon), Rachel Desmond (Bandon), Rachel Foley (UCC), Jenny Buttimer (Bandon), Laura Buttimer (Canterbury), Ingrid Burns (Cork Harlequins), Julie Poland (Cork Harlequins), Niamh O’Leary (UCC), Jenny Clein (Catholic Institute), Michelle Barry (Cork Harlequins), Claire O’Sullivan (UCC)

Ulster: Megan Todd (Queen’s), Zoe Jackson (Bowdon), Kerrie Burns (Lurgan), Rachel Burns (Rainey), Taite Doherty (Pegasus), Alana Doyle (Ards), Amy Edwards (Lurgan), Erin Getty (Randalstown), Rosie Henderson (Pegasus), Hannah Irwin (Ulster Elks), Emma Kernohan (Queen’s), Jane Kilpatrick (Ards), Ruth Maguire (Pegasus), Jessica McMaster (Queen’s), Alex Ogilby (Randalstown), Emma Quinn (Ulster Elks)

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