Irish Under-21 women’s head coach Dave Passmore has named a 27-player panel for a three-match series against USA to be played in St Gerard’s next week.
Passmore has opted for a large squad given the placement in the domestic calendar with the fixture congestion caused by the number of postponements due to the weather.
“It is great that the America squad have chosen Ireland to visit at this time as it will allow us to assess a large number of players over the three matches,” he said of the series. “We are delighted that St Gerard’s have agreed to host these matches at their excellent facilities and we thank them for that”.
The squad sees a number of new faces to the international scene including Jenny Clein and Hannah Humphries from UCC. Other additions include Emma Young who has impressed during her first season at UCD and top sprinter Niamh Gowing who has been in form this year for Mount Anville School and Muckross.
“I have watched a number of Inter-varsity, school and club matches and also taken on board suggestions from the coaches themselves and we are still assessing a number of players.
“We have included the likes of Rebecca Mercer from Belfast Harlequins who we did not get the opportunity to see before and who has impressed with her club.
“It is important that the door remains open for all players and we have included over 40 athletes during our early training sessions this year”.
The USA series runs from March 25 to 28 and Passmore expects they will arrive in Ireland with a strong panel.
“They will unquestionably bring a fit and athletic squad that will test our young players. It is only through these types of series that players can really be viewed from an international perspective to see if the can cope with the speed of the game both physically and in their ability to make good decisions under pressure”.
The long-term aim of the panel is the 2019 European Under-21 Championships where qualification to the 2020 Junior World Cup will be decided.
Passmore will also oversee a tournament in the summer in Antwerp which will allow for six players to aged between 21 and 23 to be added to the Under-21 selection.
“Our programmes have to be about player development as well as team development and the tournament will provide the opportunity for any players stuck between U21 and senior squads, or on the periphery of the senior squad to have more international exposure”.
That tournament will feature India, the Netherlands and Great Britain while Ireland will also play two series against Great Britain – now coached by Paul Revington – in 2018.
Ireland U21 v USA (March 25-28): Jade Arundell (GK, North Kildare), Michelle Barry (Cork Harlequins), Ava Beatty (Hermes-Monkstown), Rachel Burns (Trinity), Sally Campbell (Trinity), Clodagh Cassin (GK, UCD), Jenny Clein (UCC), Ellen Curran (co-captain, UCD), Alanah Doyle (Ards), Katherine Egan (UCD), Erin Getty (co-captain, Queens), Niamh Gowing (Muckross), Laura Foley (Catholic Institute), Tori Hastings (Queens), Nina Heisterkamp (Railway Union), Hannah Humphries (GK, UCC), Hannah Irwin (Ulster Elks), Erica Markey (Trinity), Grace McLoughlin (Railway Union), Hannah McLoughlin (Loreto), Jessica McMaster (Queens), Rebecca Mercer (Belfast Harlequins), Lizzie Murphy (GK, Hermes-Monkstown), Abbie Russell (vice captain, UCD), Holly Taggart (Ballymena), Sarah Torrans (Loreto), Emma Young (UCD)
Provisional match times against USA (all at St Gerard’s):
Sunday, March 25: Ireland U-21 vs USA, 3.30pm
Tuesday, March 27: Ireland U-21 vs USA, 4.30pm
Wednesday, March 28: Ireland U-21 vs USA, 2.30pm
March 25-28: three match U-21 series v USA U-21s, St Gerard’s School, Bray
June 15-17: two match U-21 series v England U-21s at Lilleshall NSC
June 29 – July 1: three match U-23 series v Wales Development, Santry Avenue
July 14-21: U-23 Alternative World Cup Tournament, Antwerp
August 9-12: three match U-21 series v England U-21, Belfast (venue TBC)