Hawkshaw, Barr and Buckley set for major tournament debuts

Sarah Hawkshaw, Bethany Barr and Emma Buckley are all set for their world ranking tournament debuts as they made the final cut for next week’s FIH Series Finals in Banbridge.

It means three changes from the original World Cup silver medal winning side with Cork Harlequins’ Yvonne O’Byrne missing out this time while Nikki Evans is named as a reserve.

Katie Mullan is looking forward to leading the side at Banbridge. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Buckley takes on the number two role in place of Grace O’Flanagan who took a step back following London. Emily Beatty also misses out while Chloe Brown – after a strong season with East Grinstead – is named as the other reserve.

In terms of injury, the only player from the wider panel to miss out was Sarah Torrans while Sinead Loughran withdrew due to work and study reasons.

Interim coach Gareth Grundie said of the line-up: “Selection has been really difficult which means there has been healthy competition for places throughout the recent training block, which is great to see. We are looking forward to and excited to see what the next couple of weeks bring.”

Captain Katie Mullan added: “As we take our first step towards Olympic qualification, the 18 players selected for this FIH Series Final represent the 43 Green Army squad members who started this journey.

“We’re really excited for this home tournament and hope to play in front of a large Irish crowd. The World Cup was a starting point for us, and we’re keen to continue on this journey and stay in the top 10 in the world. This June tournament is an opportunity to show where we are. It’s a busy summer ahead and we’re eager to take it on.”

Ireland start their campaign next Saturday, June 8 against Malaysia before facing the Czech Republic a day later. They finish off with a tie against the lowest ranked side Singapore. Top spot in the group goes straight through to the semi-finals while second and third go into the quarters.

If Ireland reach the final, they go through directly to October’s Olympic qualifiers and boost their chances of a home draw. Miss out and they will have to play a waiting game to see if their world ranking is good enough to be involved in those qualifiers.

To find further information on the FIH Series Final tournament in Banbridge this June, or purchase tickets, please see: www.hockey.ie/buy-tickets/

A McFerran (GK, University of Louisville), E Buckley (Racing Club de Bruxelles), R Upton (Catholic Institute), K Mullan (Club an der Alster), S McCay (Pegasus), M Frazer (Mannheimer HC), L Tice (UCD), G Pinder (Pembroke), B Barr (UCD), C Watkins (Monkstown), L Colvin (Belfast Harlequins), N Daly (Loreto), H Matthews (Loreto), S Hawkshaw (Railway Union), A O’Flanagan (Pinoke), Z Wilson (Belfast Harlequins), D Duke (Dusseldorfer HC), A Meeke (Loreto)
Reserves: C Brown (East Grinstead), Nikki Evans (UHC Hamburg)

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