Graham Shaw has made several changes to his Irish senior women’s panel as July’s World Cup qualifiers in South Africa come sharply into focus.
From the side that won World League Round 2 in Malaysia, 14 players remain in the squad with eight other faces coming in for their latest series which sees them head to Spook Nook in Pennsylvania for a nine-day camp, starting on May 22.
Ellen Curran, a member of the Irish Under-18s last summer, is the freshest face following a fine club season with Hermes-Monkstown in midfield.
Otherwise, the returnees have reasonably strong experience behind them. UCD skipper Deirdre Duke is back after leading her club to a treble though she missed the middle stage of the season with a shoulder injury.
Grace O’Flanagan takes over from Clodagh Cassin as one of the two goalkeepers while Ali Meeke, Emma Russell, Chloe Brown, Sinead Loughran and Belgium-based Emily Beatty all are included.
On the flip side, Cork Harlequins’ Rebecca Barry missed the EY Champions Trophy playoffs through injury and is not named in the panel nor are Lizzie Colvin nor Cliodhna Sargent from January’s squad.
The USA trip represents the main base-preparation block for the side ahead of their World League Round 3 tournament in July where up to eight of the ten sides could earn a ticket to the 2018 World Cup in London.
There, they will play the world number five side three times as well as playing the US Under-21 side once.
In mid-June, Shaw will take a squad to Berlin for a four-nations event with Germany, Korea and China to close out preparations.
“The squad are very excited about this summer where are number one goal is to qualify for the World Cup in London 2018. We feel we have a strong squad and will provide a good test to most nations in the World. This gives us a lot of confidence going into the summer” Shaw concluded.
“USA have a reputation of being incredibly fit and strong, and this will provide a different type of test.
“We are looking forward to spending 9 days together in Spooky Nook, Lancaster. It is an incredible high performance facility and it provides the perfect camp in preparation for World League Semi-Finals in South Africa”.
Ireland squad for USA series (May 22-27, Spooky Nook, Pennsylvania): Ayeisha McFerran (University of Louisville), Grace OFlanagan (Railway Union), Hannah Matthews (Loreto), Alison Meeke (Loreto), Shirley McCay (Ulster Elks), Yvonne O’Byrne (Cork Harlequins), Lena Tice (UCD), Zoe Wilson (Harvestehuder THC), Nicci Daly (Muckross), Roisin Upton (Cork Harlequins), Gillian Pinder (UCD), Chloe Watkins (Hermes-Monkstown), Katie Mullan (UCD), Emma Russell (UCD), Anna O’Flanagan (Hermes-Monkstown), Naomi Carroll (Cork Harlequins), Nikki Evans (Hermes-Monkstown), Chloe Brown (Ards), Emily Beatty (KHC Dragons), Ellen Curran (Hermes-Monkstown), Deirdre Duke (UCD), Sinead Loughran (Hermes-Monkstown)
Schedule (all matches take place in Spooky Nook, USA; times are local):
May 22: Ireland v USA Under-21s, 6.30pm
May 24: Ireland v USA, 6.30pm
May 26: Ireland v USA, 6.30pm
May 27: Ireland v USA, 6.30pm