More recognition for Ayeisha McFerran as she completes stint in USA
Ireland and University of Louisville goalkeeper included on Atlantic Coast Conference team
Ayeisha McFerran: hoping to play professionally for a European club when she returns from her studies in the USA. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Ayeisha McFerran has collected yet another individual award to add to those she has amassed since her performances at the World Cup during the summer.
The Ireland goalkeeper has been included for the third successive time in the Atlantic Coast Conference team of the year – thanks to her displays for the University of Louisville this season. She has also been selected for next week’s national All-Star game in Kentucky.
The campaign, though, ended in disappointment for Louisville when defeat to North Carolina’s Wake Forest put paid to their hopes of reaching the national finals, signalling the completion of McFerran’s four-year stint with the team. The Larne woman is due to graduate next May with a degree in Exercise Science.
McFerran hopes to get the opportunity to play professionally with a European club once she returns from America, although speaking to Kentucky television channel WDRB last week she was able to confirm one offer she has already received: to appear on RTÉ’s Dancing With the Stars.
“Next year, that’d be pretty cool,” she said of the offer, her Irish dancing past, not to mention her nifty goalkeeping footwork, earning her the invite.
Before she takes on that particular challenge there’s the small matter of Ireland’s quest to qualify for the 2020 Olympics, phase one of that journey taking place on home soil in June when the team hosts one of three FIH Series Final events, a top-two finish is required to advance to the final Olympic qualifying event which will take place in November of next year.
The build-up to June begins next month in Spain with a training camp in Valencia and a series of games against their hosts.
While the Irish Hockey Association says nothing has been confirmed yet, it’s likely the squad will head to Chile early next year for more preparation and games against the 16th-ranked nation in the world. Several more 2019 fixtures will be announced soon.
Back home, Belfast Harlequins moved up to third in the Hockey League table, a point behind Loreto and Pegasus, with a 3-1 win over Ards on Wednesday night, final quarter goals from Jenny McAuley and Liz Colvin securing them the points.
Loreto will attempt to build on last week’s excellent 2-0 win away to Pegasus when they take on Old Alexandra at Milltown, while the Belfast side are heading south for their game against Cork Harlequins. Fourth-placed UCD, meanwhile, host Pembroke Wanderers at Belfield.
Hockey League – Saturday: Cork Harlequins v Pegasus, Farmers Cross, 1,05; Old Alexandra v Loreto, Milltown, 2.0; UCD v Pembroke Wanderers, Belfield, 2.50; Muckross v Railway Union, Muckross Park, 3.15.