Hockey star Ayeisha plays key role as Ireland Ladies book Olympic slot

The triumphant Ireland Ladies squad after their win in Dublin.
The triumphant Ireland Ladies squad after their win in Dublin.
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Hockey star Ayeisha McFerran has told of her delight after Ireland Ladies secured a place at the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

Larne woman Ayeisha, who is goalkeeper for the squad, played a key role in Sunday's qualifier against Canada.

Ayeisha McFerran celebrates being named the Best Goalkeeper of the tournament during last year's World Cup INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Ayeisha McFerran celebrates being named the Best Goalkeeper of the tournament during last year's World Cup INPHO/Morgan Treacy

With both the first and second legs finishing in a 0-0 draw, the game progressed to a penalty shoot-out in Donnybrook, Dublin.

Despite saw some nail-biting moments for Ireland after they missed two of their first three penalties, Ayeisha pulled off two saves to force the shootout into sudden death.

After a pivotal score for the home team, Canada failed to convert, leaving the Ireland squad triumphant.

Speaking from Dublin where the team spent last night celebrating their win, the former Larne Grammar pupil said: "It's been non-stop since the game; it's just been amazing.

"Canada is a very good opposition; it was a tough couple of days, but we ground it out and got there in the end."

A seasoned hockey player, Ayeisha was named best goalkeeper during the team's World Cup campaign last year.

Having completed a hockey scholarship at the University of Louisville in Kentucky in May, she joined Dutch club SV Kampong during the summer.

Meanwhile, the Dublin venue for the match was a significant moment for the squad. "We got to play in front of a home crowd which was huge; for me that was just the icing on the cake, having family there," Ayeisha added.

"We've been saying for a long time that we know we're good enough to qualify. We're very confident in the preparation that we'll have [for Tokyo] and we're just really excited to get going."