Gene Muller has named four uncapped players, including three based in Leinster, in his Ireland panel of 24 that he will work with in the build-up to the Women’s World Cup Qualifiers in Chile in late April.
St Andrew’s and Hermes’ schoolgirl Niamh Atcheler (right) has been brought into the panel along with Loreto’s Nicci Daly and Railway Union goalkeeper Helen Stevenson. UCC’s Audrey O’Flynn is also in line for an international debut. They are among eight additions to the Irish panel that took part in the European championships in August.
Louisa Healy, Rachel Mulligan and Niamh Small are all back in contention as is Julia O’Halloran (left) after a year out from the national panel due to study commitments. Cathy McKean is one of two players not involved from the Amsterdam panel. She has since retired while Emma Gray is unavailable.
The squad also features a number of players currently enjoying hockey experiences outside Ireland. Megan Frazer (pictured, below right) is included following an impressive start to her career with the University of Maryland Terrapins with whom she netted a hat-trick against Penn State in just her third game for the club.
The Foyle woman – who is a cousin of Manchester United and Ireland midfielder Darron Gibson – moved to the states on a sports scholarship immediately after the Europeans.
Emma Clarke has helped Leicester to the top of the English hockey league where they maintain a perfect record of ten wins from ten games to date. Alex Speers and Shirley McCay have been part of the Dragons run to third in the Belgian national league.
The selection comes following a series of training days – most recently last Sunday – and will now see Muller and his team work with the panel over a series of training camps both at home and abroad over the coming months.
Speaking about the line-up, Muller believes there will be a serious battle among the players to pin down one of the final 18 places for Chile.
He said “I am delighted with the quality and depth of the squad we have selected to prepare for the World Cup Qualifier in late April 2010. We will have our work cut out for us to perform well against Australia , Chile , Scotland , Malaysia and Mexico.
“The competition in the squad to make the tournament 18 will be fierce and this bodes well for us.”
Ireland (15th) ranked second in their group will compete against Australia (5th), Chile (16th), Scotland (23rd), Malaysia (22nd) and Mexico (36th). Only the winner of which will secure a spot in the 2010 Hockey World Cup.
Niamh Atcheler (Hermes), Lauren Barr (Ballymoney), Emma Clarke (Leicester), Bridget Cleland (Ballymoney), Eimear Cregan ( Cork Harlequins), Lizzie Colvin (Loreto), Nicci Daly (Loreto), Roisin Flinn (Old Alex), Megan Frazer (University of Maryland Terrapins), Mary Goode (Bray), Michelle Harvey (Pegasus), Louisa Healy (Loreto), Lisa Jacob (UCD), Shirley McCay (Dragons), Rachel Mulligan (Armagh), Audrey O’Flynn (UCC), Julia O’Halloran (UCC), Cliodhna Sargent ( Cork Harlequins), Niamh Small (Loreto), Emma Smyth (Railway Union), Alex Speers (Dragons), Helen Stevenson (Railway Union), Emma Stewart (Armagh), Nikki Symmons (Loreto)