Hockey: Ireland’s women’s team to play five games in Alicante
Senior Cup quarter-finals will be the last this season members of Ireland squad will play
Shirley McCay of Ireland with England’s Elena Rayer. McCay returns to the Ireland fold having initially considered retiring after the World Cup. Photograph: Christopher Lee/Getty Images
Ireland’s schedule for the year ahead is filling up fast with the announcement of a trip to Alicante. Spain, next month, where the women’s hockey team will come up against the nations they beat in last summer’s World Cup quarter and semi-finals, India and Spain.
Following that there will be a series of matches against Britain at Bisham Abbey in March, with four games against Canada in Dublin providing the final warm-up for the FIH Series event on home turf in June.
Coach Graham Shaw has named a 26-player squad for the three games against India and two against Spain, Shirley McCay and Liz Colvin returning to the fold having initially considered retiring after the World Cup.
Sarah Hawkshaw and the Barr twins, Bethany and Serena, retain their places in the squad after making their senior debuts against Chile earlier this month, while there is a return for former Ards forward Chloe Brown, who is now playing her hockey in England with East Grinstead.
Megan Frazer and Gillian Pinder, who both picked up injuries in Chile, miss out on this trip, as does goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran who has college commitments in America.
Earlier this week Singapore completed the line-up for the FIH Series finals where Ireland will need a top-two finish to guarantee advancing to an Olympic-qualifying tie. The Czech Republic, Malaysia, Korea, Scotland, Ukraine and France will be the other competing nations at an Irish venue still to be confirmed.
With such a jammed schedule ahead, the European Championships following in August, Saturday’s Irish Senior Cup quarter-finals will be the last round of the competition this season that will feature members of the senior squad. With 11 players between them on the latest panel, UCD and Loreto would be the clubs most effected if they advance to the last four, but having been paired in the quarter-final draw only one of them will.
UCD, who are going for a three-in-a-row in the competition, host Loreto at Belfield, with the three other Leinster sides left in the draw all having home advantage. Pembroke Wanderers take on Pegasus, last season’s beaten finalists, Railway Union host Ards and Muckross take on Cork Harlequins.
IRISH SQUAD: S Barr (Beeston), L Colvin, Z Wilson both Belfast Harlequins), R Upton (Catholic Institute), K Mullan (Club an der Alster), Y O’Byrne (Cork Harlequins), C Brown (East Grinstead), L Murphy, H Matthews, A Meeke, S Torrans, N Daly (all Loreto), S McCay (Pegasus), A Naughton, E Beatty, S Loughran (all Pembroke Wanderers), A O’Flanagan (Pinoke), E Buckley (Racing), S Hawkshaw (Railway Union), B Barr, L Tice, H McLoughlin, E Curran, D Duke, L McGuire (all UCD), N Evans (UHC).
Irish Senior Cup quarter-finals - Saturday: Muckross v Cork Harlequins, Muckross Park, 1.30pm; Railway Union v Ards, Park Avenue, 2pm; Pembroke Wanderers v Pegasus, Serpentine Avenue, 2.30pm; UCD v Loreto, Belfield, 2.50pm.