Five Ulster players given Ireland call-up for Champions Challenge

Ireland's Katie Mullan
Ireland's Katie Mullan

Five Ulster players have been named in the Ireland women’s hockey squad for the Champions Challenge tournament in Glasgow from April 27-May 4.

But there is no place for Ards striker Chloe Brown and her Pegasus counterpart Vanessa Surgeoner who have failed to make the 18-strong panel.

In contrast though there was delight for Randalstown goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran who has made the cut after just one senior international appearance.

Like Surgeoner and Brown, the teenager made her Ireland debut against Spain during a warm weather training camp in Terrassa earlier this year.

Former Ballymoney striker Megan Frazer, who now plays in England, has been named team captain in place of the unavailable Alex Speers after impressing national coach Darren Smith on the same trip.

Joining her and McFerran in the squad from Ulster are Michelle Harvey, now based in Belgium and Old Alex’s Shirley McCay along with another former Ballymoney player Katie Mullan, who is now with UCD.

In the first phase of the Glasgow tournament Ireland will be up against South Africa, Spain and the United States before a series of play-off matches to determine the finishing positions.

The girls in green claimed a set of bronze medals at the last such tournament but won’t be expected to emulate that achievement this time around due to a slightly higher calibre of opposition and the loss of key players in Speers and Symmons.

Ireland continue their build-up for the competition next week in Dublin when they play India in three internationals in which Chloe Brown will feature because two Railway Union players in the Glasgow squad have European club championship commitments.

Ireland senior women’s squad for Champions Challenge, Glasgow April 27-May 4: Emily Beatty (UCD), Naomi Carroll (Catholic Institute), Nicci Daly (Holcombe HC / Loreto), Kate Dillon (Railway Union), Nikki Evans (UCD), Megan Frazer (Holcombe HC / Ballymoney) (capt.), Emma Gray (Hermes), Michelle Harvey (Leuven / Pegasus), Shirley McCay (Old Alex), Ayeisha McFerran (Randalstown), Ali Meeke (Loreto), Katie Mullan (UCD), Anna O’Flanagan (UCD), Audrey O’Flynn (Hermes), Gillian Pinder (UCD), Cliodhna Sargent (Cork Harlequins) (vice-capt.),Emma Smyth (Railway Union), Chloe Watkins (Club de Campo / Hermes)