Four Ulster players are set to make their senior international debuts next month after being named in the Ireland women’s squad to play four internationals against Spain as part of a nine day training camp.
Strikers Chloe Brown and Vanessa Surgeoner,of Ards and Pegasus respectively, have been included in a 26-strong squad which features a total of seven Ulster girls.
Also among the newcomers named in the panel are Irish Under 18 internationals Ayeisha McFerran (Randalstown) and her club mate Zoe Wilson.
National coach Darren Smith has also recalled UCD and ex-Ballymoney striker Katie Mullan and Michelle Harvey, the former Pegasus defender who is now playing in Belgium.
Megan Frazer, formerly with Ballymoney and now with English Conference side Holcombe, is included after playing in the recent EuroHockey Nations Cup in Belgium.
Former Pegasus and Ireland player Arlene Boyles has been named as assistant coach to help national U21 boss Graham Shaw, who will be deputising for Smith on the trip as the latter’s wife is expecting a baby.
The New Zealander has rested a number of his more experienced internationals to give some fresh faces the chance to make an impact and gain experience of senior international hockey.
The Kiwi insists that all the new faces, including those from Ulster, deserve their chance after impressing in training and tournaments.
“I’ve been happy with their development and look forward to seeing them in green next month”
The four games against Spain, which are being used as part of the build up for the Champions Challenge II tournament starting in late April will take place in Terrassa, on the outskirts of Barcelona.
Ireland squad: Pamela Smithwick (Old Alex), Emma Gray (Hermes), Ayeisha McFerran (Randalstown). Kate Dillon ( Railway Union), Michelle Harvey (Leuven), Ali Meeke (Loreto), Yvonne O’Byrne (Cork Harlequins), Audrey O’Flynn (Hermes), Cliodhna Sargent (Cork Harlequins), Zoe Wilson (Randalstown), Emily Beatty (UCD), Nicci Daly (Holcombe),Emma Duncan ( Old Alex), Megan Frazer (Holcombe), Lisa Jacob (Hermes), Gill Pinder (UCD), Sara Twomey (Hermes), Chloe Watkins (Club de Campo), Naomi Carroll (Catholic Institute), Chloe Brown (Ards), Deidre Duke (UCD), Nikki Evans (UCD), Kate Lloyd (Railway Union), Katie Mullan (UCD), Anna O’Flanagan( UCD), Vanessa Surgeoner (Pegasus).