Softco Series offers chance to stake claims for World Cup spot

The Irish women’s team have one of their last few chances to stake a claim for a World Cup spot this weekend as they take on Canada over the two-match Softco Series at Pembroke Wanderers in Dublin.

Graham Shaw will name his reduced panel on June 26, cutting it down from the current expanded list up to 28 currently in the wider panel. It follows three strong wins over Scotland followed by two uncapped defeats to England at Lee Valley on the World Cup pitch.

Nikki Evans celebrates with her UHC team mates. Pic: Frank Uijlenbroek

Nikki Evans is one big name to be rested for the Canada series having only just finished her club season. She helped UHC Hamburg to silver in the German championship, adding to the European Cup silver she won with the club in May, leaving her with somewhat mixed emotions.

Megan Frazer made her return to on-pitch action in the closing weeks of the German campaign with Mannheimer HC. The skipper had been out of action since October 2016 following a cruciate knee ligament injury which required a second surgery in 2017.

Her first action in 20 months was a couple of classification games at that European Cup and her club was involved in the German playoffs last weekend, missing out on the final at the hands of UHC. Whether she can get back to full flow in time for July 21’s first World Cup game is the question mark.

Canada, the world number 21 side, offer a robust opponent and enter the competition following an easy run to top spot in the Hockey Series Open, scoring 71 goals in four games.

Following this tournament, Ireland will head to Germany for three games with a panel of 23 from which the final panel will likely be selected from on June 26.

After that, Ireland will play a three game series against Japan in Cork from July 4-7 and then goes to Three Rock for a three nations event with Italy and Chile.

Tickets for the Softco Series games against Canada cost €10 for adults while children go free; a pass for both games is €15.

Women’s senior international test matches (both at Serpentine Avenue, Ballsbridge)
Friday: Ireland v Canada, 7pm
Saturday: Ireland v Canada, 5pm

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