Ulster Elks captain Gemma Frazer will have an extra spring in her step when she lines out for the Irish Cup holders against Old Alex in Dublin on Saturday.
Frazer is set to make her senior international debut for Ireland next week in a three-match series with Scotland
She will be joined in the 20-strong squad by two Elks teammates, Megan Frazer and Shirley McCay, with Ards players Chloe Brown and Kerrie McDonald also making the cut.
The sixth Ulster player in the panel is UCD’s Katie Mullan who formerly played for Ballymoney before moving south.
The last time the two sides met was in Dublin last November when Ireland won the series 3-0 with 1-0, 2-1 and 4-0 victories.
“We’re excited to get back on the pitch. Scotland is a very strong side and they have the ability to cause us some problems and we’re looking forward to seeing how we handle these challenges.” said national head coach Graham Shaw.
Today, if she can contain her excitement, Elks captain Frazer is hoping her team can make a successful start to their defence of the Irish Cup.
“We played Alex in a pre-season friendly and won easily but we won’t be reading anything into that game as both sides were short some key players.” said Gemma.
“We beat them on penalties in the IHL wild-card play-offs a couple of years ago and that game was a more realistic indicator of what to expect on Saturday.”
There are four other cross-border ties on Saturday as Queen’s travel to Dublin to face UCD, Ballymoney take on Cork C of I at the Joey Dunlop Centre and Belfast Harlequins face UCC in Cork.
Ballymoney have been having a tough season with just one win in the league to date but they should be capable of progressing at the expense of Cork C of I who aren’t among the top sides in Munste
There are three all-Ulster ties down for decision with North Down having drawn the short straw as they face IHL champions Pegasus, who should go through.
“If we can keep it tight and not concede in the first 15 minutes that would be an ideal platform but they will be heavy favourites.” said Comber captain Laura Clarke.
Lisnagarvey edged out Dungannon 3-2 in a recent league game so another close contest in the rematch while Randalstown face Armagh.
Ireland squad: Stella Davis (Pembroke Wanderers); Cliodhna Sargent (Cork Harlequins); Shirley McCay (Ulster Elks); Hannah Matthews (Loreto); Kerri McDonald (Ards); Megan Frazer (Ulster Elks) (capt.); Nikki Evans (Hermes); Elena Tice (Loreto); Naomi Carroll (Hermes); Katie Mullan (UCD); Gillian Pinder (UCD); Ali Meeke (Loreto); Chloe Brown (Ards); Emily Beatty (UCD); Yvonne O’Byrne (Cork Harlequins); Deirdre Duke (UCD); Pamela Smithwick (Old Alex); Hayley Mulcahy (Loreto); Kate Lloyd (UCD); Gemma Frazer (Ulster Elks).