Ulster quartet included in Spain tour

An experimental Irish squad, including seven Ulster players, headed for Spain yesterday for a 10-day warm weather training camp in Barcelona.

The trip will include four internationals against Spain which have taken on more significance since details of the visit were announced.

That’s because Ireland were subsequently drawn to face the Spanish along with the United States and South Africa in their next competitive tournament starting in late April, the Champions Challenge.

Four of the Ulster girls are set to win their first ‘caps’ during the Test series against the Spanish, who at 14th, are one place higher than Ireland in the world rankings.

Randalstown players Ayeisha McFerran and Zoe Wilson were on the flight yesterday along with Ards striker Chloe Brown and her Pegasus counterpart Vanessa Surgeoner.

National coach Darren Smith rates the quartet highly and Brown and Surgeoner, in particular, could come into the reckoning for a place in the Champions Challenge squad.

The three other Ulster girls included are Megan Frazer, Katie Mullan and Michelle Harvey, all of whom have played senior international hockey before.

However of the trio only Frazer was in the squad that took part in the EuroHockey Nations Cup series in the summer.

Irish squad for training camp: Pamela Smithwick (GK, Old Alex), Emma Gray (GK, Hermes), Ayeisha McFerran (GK, 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 (SCHC), 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)