Ireland women set for first steps towards Tokyo 2020 with hockey World Series in Banbridge

Ireland goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran
Ireland goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran
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Ireland’s senior women take the first steps towards Olympic Games qualification next weekend with play across the FIH World Series in Banbridge.

Interim head coach Gareth Grundie has confirmed his squad for fixtures from June 8 towards a slot at the Tokyo 2020 tournament.

The two top teams will progress to the October and November qualifying process, with Ireland making a first appearance on home soil since securing last summer’s World Cup silver.

Ireland go into the series with Pool A games against Czech Republic, Malaysia and Singapore. Korea, Scotland, Ukraine and France line out across Pool B.

“Selection has been really difficult which means there has been healthy competition for places throughout the recent training block, which is great to see,” said Grundie. “We are looking forward to and excited to see what the next couple of weeks bring.”

The full Ireland squad is as follows: Bethany Barr, Emma Buckley, Lizzie Colvin, Nicci Daly, Deirdre Duke, Megan Frazer, Sarah Hawkshaw, Hannah Matthews, Shirley McCay, Ayeisha McFerran, Ali Meeke, Katie Mullan, Anna O’Flanagan, Gillian Pinder, Elena Tice, Roisin Upton, Chloe Watkins,

Zoe Wilson. RESERVES: Chloe Brown, Nicola Evans.

The 2018 World Cup captain, Katie Mullan, said: “As we take our first step towards Olympic qualification the 18 players selected for this FIH Series Final represent the 43 Green Army squad members who started this journey. We’re really excited for this home tournament and hope to play in front of a large Irish crowd. “The World Cup was a starting point for us, and we’re keen to continue on this journey and stay in the top 10 in the world. This June tournament is an opportunity to show where we are. It’s a busy summer ahead and we’re eager to take it on.”

Anna O’Flanagan said: “This is definitely the most competitive Irish squad I’ve ever been part of. We’re representing a much wider group and we’re very fortunate we’re the ones selected to do this. We want to go out and do ourselves, the wider squad and the country proud.”