Ulster stars named in Ireland women’s hockey squad

Michelle Harvey, Pegasus
Michelle Harvey, Pegasus

Five Ulster players have been named in the Ireland women’s hockey squad to play Spain in a series of friendlies next month in Valencia.

Emma Clarke and Shirley McCay, who missed the recent Champions Challenge tournament in Dublin, are available again.

They are joined in the squad by fellow Ulster women Alex Speers, the team captain, Michelle Harvey and Katie Mullan.

Pegasus midfielder Harvey is the only locally-based Ulster player in the 22-strong panel which is the first selected by new national coach Darren Smith.

The training camp to include the three internationals will take place in Valencia from February 2-11.

Smith did however admit that he picked the squad without seeing any of the players in action as he is still in his homeland of New Zealand. However he will obviously be in a better position to judge when he arrives in Ireland later this month to take some squad sessions in advance of the trip to Spain.

The visit will be ‘dry run’ for the first stage of the World Cup qualifying process, the confusingly titled World Series II tournament at the same venue from February 25-March 3.

Irish squad: Niamh Atcheler (UCD), Emma Clarke (Leicester), Aine Connery (Corinthian), Nicci Daly (Holcombe), Nikki Evans (UCD), Brenda Flannery (UCD), Emma Gray (Hermes), Nicola Gray (UCD), Michelle Harvey (Pegasus), Lisa Jacob (Hermes), Sinead McCarthy (Hermes), Shirley McCay (Old Alexandra), Katie Mullan (UCD), Anna O’Flanagan (UCD), Audrey O’Flynn (Hermes), Cliodhna Sargent (Cork Harlequins), Niamh Small (Loreto), Pamela Smithwick (Old Alexandra), Emma Smyth (Railway Union), Alex Speers (Railway Union), Nikki Symmons (Loreto), Chloe Watkins (UCD)