The Irish Women’s Hockey squad was announced by head-coach, Graham Shaw, for the Hockey World Cup which kicks off this month in England. Ireland are currently ranked 16th in the world and will face the USA, India and England in their group. This will be the first time an Irish hockey team is represented at the World Cup since 2002.
Ireland’s first game in the World Cup will be against USA on July 21st. Five days later, Ireland will take on India who are ranked 10th in the world. The Green Army last played India at the World League in South Africa and secured the win with a strike from Lizzie Colvin who brought the score to 2-1. Finally, the last match of the group stages will see Ireland take on the World Cup hosts and current Olympic gold medalists, England. This match will take place on Sunday July 29th and is sure to be an exciting fixture.
In preparation for the World Cup, Ireland have been undergoing an intense run of warm-up fixtures to get them match ready and up to international speed. After a convincing 3-0 seriea win against Scotland earlier this month, Ireland faced Canada in the Softco Series. Canada controlled the first game with a 3-0 win but the Irish showed great character in the following game and were unlucky not to end up with a win after a 1-1 draw. Ireland then took on Germany in Dusseldorf with a 2-1 final result, with the winning goal by Ali Meeke, however they subsequently lost the return fixture.
Next up Ireland will take on Japan, as the head to Cork for eight days, for the three-game series. After this, they will take on Chile and Italy in Dublin and then the final match of the hectic preparation schedule against South Africa in Lee Valley.
Included in the squad are both Megan Frazer and Nicci Daly. Frazer, whom had been out of action since October 2016 from a cruciate knee ligament injury, made her return back to the pitch at the end of the domestic season with Mannheimer Hockey Club. She is expected to make her return to the pitch for Ireland in the three-game series against Japan this week. Meanwhile, Daly is recovering from a stress-fracture in her foot. The new rules in the World Cup allow replacements to be brought into the squad for injured players.
With Nikki Evans, Ireland have a player who is on top form as she is coming off a season having helped UHC Hamburg to silver in both the German championship and European Cup. Katie Mullan will be captaining the side in England.
Goalkeepers: Ayeisha McFerran (University of Louisville), Grace O’Flanagan (Railway Union)
Defenders: Yvonne O’Byrne (Cork Harlequins), Hannah Matthews (Loreto), Lena Tice (UCD), Zoe Wilson (Belfast Harlequins), Roisin Upton (Cork Harlequins), Shirley McCay (Pegasus)
Midfielders: Katie Mullan (UCD), Nicci Daly (Loreto), Gillian Pinder (Pembroke), Megan Frazer (Mannheimer HC), Chloe Watkins (HC Bloemendaal), Lizzie Colvin (Belfast Harlequins)
Forwards: Deirdre Duke (UCD), Nicola Evans (UHC Hamburg), Ali Meeke (Loreto), Anna O’Flanagan (HC Bloemendaal)
— RTÉ Sport (@RTEsport) June 26, 2018