Irish U-23s warm up with strong series against Wales

The Irish Under-23/21 selection put in some fine performances over the weekend against Wales at Santry Avenue to continue their preparation for a Six Nations tournament in Antwerp later this month.

On Friday, goals from Jessica McMaster and Ruth Maguire saw them win 2-0 and they closed out the weekend on Sunday with a 5-1 result, Anna Richardson, Michelle Barry, Katherine Egan, Nina Heisterkamp and Taite Doherty scoring.

Next on their agenda is games against Chile and Italy over the weekend at Pembroke before they take on the Antwerp tournament.

There, they will play other Under-23 selections from India, the Netherlands, Canada, Great Britain and Belgium.

For those games, a reduced panel has been named. Emma Buckley comes back in to take up one of the goalkeeping slots alongside fellow Cork woman Hannah Humphries.

A feature of the squad is also the return of players from the US to Europe getting a look in after spells away. Sarah Hawkshaw – at University of Massachusetts – is a case in point while Serena Barr, twin sister of Bethany, is now in England with Ben Rhydding after a college spell with the Liberty Flames.

Edel Nyland, after a spell at the Longwood Lancers, is now in Bremen in Germany and is one of 10 players who lined out at the European Under-21s last summer.

Sarah Torrans, Ellen Curran and Buckley are three members of the senior squad who were left out of the World Cup side but can show more of their talent for the future.

Head Coach David Passmore commented: “This is an ideal opportunity to develop and expose a young group of Irish athletes to different styles of play and the intensity of elite hockey against some of the top nations.

“I hope it provides the platform for some athletes to move to the senior squad after the World Cup and challenge for Olympic qualification places there after. We thank Eugene F Collins for the sponsorship that has provided the platform for this trip ”

Ireland Under-23 squad (for Antwerp Six Nations event): Hannah Humphries (GK, UCC), Emma Buckley (GK, Cork Harlequins), Serena Barr (Ben Rhydding HC, England), Bethany Barr (UCD), Hannah Grieve (Pegasus), Hannah McLoughlin (Loreto), Michelle Barry (Cork Harlequins), Ruth Maguire (Pegasus), Michelle Carey (Railway Union), Sara Twomey (UCD), Ellen Curran (UCD), Erica Markey (Trinity), Abigail Russell (UCD), Sarah Hawkshaw (Railway Union), Edel Nyland (Bremen, Germany), Tori Hastings (Queens), Jessica McMaster (Queens), Sarah Torrans (Loreto)

Fixture schedule
Saturday, July 7: Ireland U-23 v Chile seniors, 6.30pm, Pembroke
Sunday, July 8: Ireland U-23 v Italy seniors, 4pm, Pembroke

U23 6 Nations Tournament at Royal Antwerp Hockey Club (times local)
Saturday, July 14: Ireland v India, 10.30am
Sunday, July 15: Ireland v Netherlands, 10.30am
Tuesday, July 17: Ireland v Canada, 12pm
Wednesday, July 18: Ireland v Great Britain, 12pm
Friday, July 20: Ireland v Belgium, 1.30pm
Saturday, July 21: Crossovers

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