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12 World Cup silver medallists in Dancer's Ireland squad for European Championships

The Green Army have a massive summer ahead of them.

IRELAND HEAD COACH Sean Dancer has named “his strongest available squad” for June’s European Championships, as the Green Army open a massive summer.

the-ireland-players-celebrate Ireland celebrate with their silver medals at London 2018. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

After over 20 months preparing in the background, the Irish women’s hockey team head to the Netherlands for the Euros, which doubles up as a World Cup qualifier — and, of course, vital preparation for their first-ever Olympic Games.

The 18-player panel features 12 of the 2018 World Cup silver medal-winning side and 13 of the team which secured qualification to the Toky0 Olympic Games in November 2019.

Goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran, captain Katie Mullan and vice-captain Anna O’Flanagan are among the familiar experienced faces included, with Chloe Watkins, Nicci Daly, Nikki Evans, Megan Frazer, Hannah Matthews, Lizzie Colvin, Shirley McCay, Lena Tice and Roisin Upton and Sarah Hawkshaw other heroes from the last few years making the trip.

Rising UCD star Michelle Carey is the only uncapped player in the 18, the Railway Union product set to make her formal international debut when Ireland face the Dutch.

Carey has really caught the eye this year at training camps in Spain, Belfast and England, scoring a number of goals from midfield in international challenge matches to date.

One of three players making their first appearance in a world ranking event, Loreto speedster Sarah Torrans and UCD’s Hannah McLoughlin have also been handed big opportunities, having impressed of late.

Clare dual star Naomi Carroll — also a talented Gaelic footballer through the years –  will play her first capped match since the summer of 2018, having taken the long road back from an ACL injury sustained while representing her county.

On the contrary, Zoe Wilson and the Barr twins, Serena and Bethany, miss out through injury, while goalkeeper Grace O’Flanagan is not included as Lizzie Murphy travels with McFerran. Regular goal-scorer Deirdre Duke and uncapped Muckross star Sarah McAuley are held as “travelling reserves” due to Covid-19 concerns.

roisin-upton-celebrates-scoring-a-goal-with-katie-mullan-and-nicci-daly Roisin Upton celebrates scoring a goal with Katie Mullan and Nicci Daly. All three are included. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Ireland are bidding for a first-ever semi-final spot at the eight-team competition, staged at Amstelveen’s Wagener Stadium. They face world number one side the Netherlands in a rematch of the 2018 World Cup final on 5 June, followed by Scotland on 7 June and Spain on 9 June.

A top-three finish overall would assure the side of a ticket to the 2023 World Cup. Currently, Spain and the Netherlands are already pre-qualified as hosts but should either — or both — finish in the Euros medal positions, fourth or fifth place could provide qualification.

Speaking at the announcement about the selection, coach Dancer said:

“It has been a long, tough 12 months, preparing in a Covid world,” Dancer said, announcing the selection. “It is a credit to the group’s strength to arrive at this year’s Euros with a very balanced team.

“I will enjoy watching the experienced players controlling our play in combination with the excitement of our young players such as Michelle Carey and Hannah McLoughlin.

“The European Championships is a major tournament with ramifications for next year’s World Cup. We have made our objectives very clear and will push hard as a group towards them.”

Ireland women’s squad for EuroHockey Championships

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Ayeisha McFerran (SV Kampong, 100) — goalkeeper
Lizzie Murphy (Loreto, 13) — goalkeeper
Michelle Carey (UCD, 0)
Naomi Carroll (Catholic Institute, 111)
Lizzie Colvin (Belfast Harlequins, 196)
Nicci Daly (Loreto, 189)
Nikki Evans (Old Alex, 198)
Megan Frazer (Belfast Harlequins, 136)
Sarah Hawkshaw (Railway Union, 33)
Hannah Matthews (Loreto, 147)
Shirley McCay (Pegasus, 306)
Hannah McLoughlin (UCD, 14)
Katie Mullan (Ballymoney, 193) — captain
Anna O’Flanagan (Muckross, 207) — vice captain
Lena Tice (Old Alex, 109)
Sarah Torrans (Loreto, 26)
Roisin Upton (Catholic Institute, 76)
Chloe Watkins (Monkstown, 226)

Travelling reserves: Deirdre Duke (Old Alex, 141), Sarah McAuley (Muckross, 0)

EuroHockey Championships 2021 (all times Irish)

Group A (world rank): Netherlands (1st), Spain (7th), Ireland (8th), Scotland (22nd)

Group B: Germany (4th), England (5th), Belgium (12th), Italy (17th)

Irish fixture schedule

5 June: Ireland v Netherlands, 2.30pm

7 June: Ireland v Scotland, 11.30am

9 June: Ireland v Spain, 11.30am

11 June: Semi-finals/relegation pool

12/13 June: Medal matches/relegation pool.

About the author:

Emma Duffy

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