Seven Ulster players named in Ireland women’s team for crunch Tokyo qualifier against Canada

Ayeisha McFerran is among seven Ulster players named in the Ireland team to face Canada this weekend in a huge Olympic qualifer.
Ayeisha McFerran is among seven Ulster players named in the Ireland team to face Canada this weekend in a huge Olympic qualifer.
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Twins Bethany and Serena Barr have been named in the Ireland women’s hockey team ahead of this weekend’s Olympic qualifier against Canada in Dublin.

It is the first time the Lurgan siblings have been picked in the same tournament squad.

They join five other Ulster players named in the 18-player panel by head coach Sean Dancer, with Serena replacing Ali Meeke in the only change from Ireland’s last tournament appearance in the EuroHockey Championships in Antwerp in August.

Ireland will face Canada in Donnybrook, Dublin on Saturday and Sunday, with a place at the 2020 Tokyo Games at stake.

The women’s team secured their place in the qualifier after an impressive performance in the FIH Series Finals, which were held in Banbridge in June, when Ireland made it to the final but lost out to Korea.

The Ireland’s men team - who were also facing Canada - missed out on a ticket to Tokyo in heartbreaking and controversial fashion on Sunday night.

A late penalty decision by the officials led to a shootout in which the Canadians prevailed, ending Ireland’s Olympic hopes - a fate the women’s team will be hoping to avoid.

Coach Dancer said: “I’m very happy with the squad we’ve chosen to represent Ireland in this Olympic qualifier.

“Canada are a good side. When you get to this level everyone is, you can’t underestimate any team you come up against. We’ve been working hard the past few months and I’m confident in this team’s ability to be successful.”

Ireland squad: Ayeisha McFerran (Ulster), Roisin Upton (Munster), Nikki Evans (Leinster), Kathryn Mullan (Capt, Ulster), Shirley McCay (Ulster), Elena Tice (Leinster), Gillian Pinder (Leinster), Beth Barr (Ulster), Serena Barr (Ulster), Chloe Watkins (Leinster), Lizzie Colvin (Ulster), Nicola Daly (Leinster), Hannah Matthews (Leinster), Sarah Hawkshaw (Leinster), Anna O’Flanagan (Leinster), Zoe Wilson (Ulster), Deirdre Duke (Leinster), Elizabeth Murphy (Leinster).