Graham Shaw has made the first tough cut to the Irish senior women’s squad for next month’s World Cup with Cliodhna Sargent the biggest name to miss out at this stage.
Sargent has been an almost ever-present since her debut in January 2007 up to the World League Round 2 in January last year, playing the tournament in Singapore a few weeks after finding out she was pregnant.
Following the birth of her son, she returned to action last November and the Irish squad earlier this year, including two games against Canada last weekend.
But she has not been able to force her way fully back into the line-up for the World Cup in London which begins on July 21 with coach Shaw confirming he will select his panel from his latest list of 22 players.
Sargent was one of five players to learn on Monday afternoon that they would not be going to the tournament, Ireland’s first of its kind since 2002. Emma Buckley, Aisling Naughton, Rebecca Barry and Leah McGuire were the other players left out.
“It’s not easy to let down people to let down people who have given up their lives to go to a World Cup but that’s the nature of the job,” Shaw said of the selection.
“It’s not far away now and we will need to keep moving it up a notch now. It’s all we talk about every day.”
Took a risk and asked my employer @PwCIreland for a leave of absence to prepare as best I could to try make squad for the World Cup. Their response was unwavering support for which I'm very grateful. It wasn't to be this time out but I'm behind @IreWomenHockey whole heartedly. https://t.co/84eK6s6ykf
— Rebecca Barry (@BeccaBa) June 18, 2018
Ireland travel to Germany on Tuesday for a three nations tournament in Dusseldorf where they will meet hosts Germany on Thursday and then Canada on Saturday. They will play another challenge match on the trip against the Germans.
They go with 20 players of the 22, a largely experienced side with teenager Sarah Torrans the one new face to potentially break in.
There are two major doubts, though, with former skipper Megan Frazer suffering complications with her return from 20 months out from a cruciate knee injury.
She had played a couple of games at the European Cup with German club Mannheimer HC but has since had to have further keyhole surgery of which she and Shaw are awaiting a full diagnosis.
Nicci Daly is about 10 days from a return from a foot injury but the good news is Gillian Pinder and Shirley McCay look to have shaken off issues. Nonetheless, Shaw says it has been frustrating not to have a full squad available during this key preparatory phase.
“You want to have that full squad to select from, particularly when its your most experienced players and you know the impact they can make,” he said after the Canada series.
“It has been a purpose of the last two years to build a bigger squad so that when we do get injuries, we can deal with it. It was pleasing to see some young girls step up and perform – they are on the right path.
“It’s exciting to see two 19-year-olds [Sarah Torrans and Ellen Curran] come in and not look out of place so we have a few decisions ahead of us.”
The final Irish panel for the World Cup will be named on June 26.
Ireland squad for Three Nations Invitational tournament (Dusseldorf, June 21-23): A McFerran (University of Louisville), G O’Flanagan (Railway Union), Y O’Byrne (Cork Harlequins), L Tice (UCD), H Matthews (Loreto), Z Wilson (Belfast Harlequins), R Upton (Cork Harlequins), S McCay (Pegasus), K Mullan (UCD), G Pinder (Pembroke), C Watkins (Bloemendaal), L Colvin (Belfast Harlequins), D Duke (UCD), N Carroll (Cork Harlequins), A Meeke (Loreto), E Beatty (Pembroke), A O’Flanagan (Bloemendaal), N Evans (UHC Hamburg), S Torrans (Loreto), S Loughran (Monkstown)
Not travelling due to injury: M Frazer (Mannheimer HC), N Daly (Loreto)