Barr twins among four uncapped players in for Chile trip

Twins Bethany and Serena Barr could make their international debuts on the same day in January as they form part of a quartet of new faces in Graham Shaw’s Irish squad for a training camp in Chile.

The 26-player panel will take in an extended camp which will include four games against the hosts in Santiago between January 12 and 16 in the first capped games for the Green Army since the World Cup silver medal. It is back to the bread and butter following the team being named the RTE Sport Team of the Year on Saturday evening.

The Barr duo were both All-Ireland schools winners with Lurgan HS before moving to the US on scholarship with the Liberty Flames. Their return to Europe has put them back in the shop window with Bethany at UCD and Serena playing for Beeston in England.

Railway Union pair Sarah Hawkshaw and Amy Elliott are the other two who will likely make their debuts on the trip. Hawkshaw followed a similar path to the Barrs, playing four successful years at the University of Massachusetts, before coming back to Dublin.

For the Barrs and Hawkshaw, they have all been part of the Irish Under-23 panel over the past year, showing perhaps the value of the increased commitment and fixtures for junior age groups as a pathway to the national team.

Elliott, meanwhile, is on a meteoric rise. She is still in St Andrew’s College, the alma mater of team mates Gillian Pinder and Chloe Watkins, but was elevated quickly out of the Irish Under-18s to the 21s last summer and now into the senior panel.

Overall, there are 16 of the World Cup squad of 19 involved. Shirley McCay continues to mull over whether she returns to the fold while Lizzie Colvin and Grace O’Flanagan are taking a step back for the time-being.

Ayeisha McFerran missed the uncapped series in Spain earlier this month but is back having finished her college hockey in Louisville with a fourth successive inclusion in the All-American representative team.

Speaking about the series, coach Graham Shaw – who was named RTE Sport Manager of the Year on Saturday evening – said: “While 2018 has been the most incredible, historic year for the Green Army we firmly have our sights set on 2019 and Olympic Qualification.

“We are keen to hit the ground running in the New Year and this long warm weather camp in Chile is the ideal start for us. Chile are an improving side that will prove valuable opponents for our entire squad, both senior members and newer additions to our panel.”

Ireland women’s squad (January 12-16 2019, Santiago): Ayeisha McFerran (University of Louisville), Emma Buckley (Racing Club de Bruxelles), Liz Murphy (Loreto), Hannah Matthews (Loreto), Lena Tice (UCD), Serena Barr (Beeston), Bethany Barr (UCD), Zoe Wilson (Belfast Harlequins), Gillian Pinder (Pembroke), Katie Mullan (Club an der Alster), Ali Meeke (Loreto), Roisin Upton (Catholic Institute), Megan Frazer (Mannheimer HC), Nicci Daly (Loreto), Nikki Evans (UHC Hamburg), Anna O’Flanagan (Pinoke), Sarah Torrans (Loreto), Deirdre Duke (Dusseldorfer HC), Sarah Hawkshaw (Railway Union), Amy Elliott (Railway Union), Gemma Frazer (Belfast Harlequins), Ruth Maguire (Pegasus), Emily Beatty (Pembroke), Yvonne O’Byrne (Cork Harlequins), Chloe Watkins (Monkstown), Aisling Naughton (Pembroke)

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