Women's hockey: Ireland U21 side on cusp of World Cup debut

England first opponents for the junior Green Army
Women's hockey: Ireland U21 side on cusp of World Cup debut

The Ireland U21 side following training at Potchefstroom yesterday ahead of their opening game against England. UCC's Caoimhe Perdue is pictured front centre. Picture: Frank Uijlenbroek

After four months delay, what is another day as the Junior Green Army will belatedly get their World Cup campaign up and running on Saturday afternoon against England in Potchefstroom, South Africa.

In this frequently adjusted tournament, David Passmore’s side had been due to play Ukraine this morning but, despite their Herculean efforts to take part, this week saw those hopes formally end. It means Ireland are now in a three-team group with two to advance to the quarter-finals.

The Irish side will be co-captained by UCC's Caoimhe Perdue, who will be a key player for them over the coming days. Unfortunately, this means she will be missing a big game for the college side as they take on Queens University in the EY Irish Hockey League quarter-final.

“We are delighted to be here in this beautiful venue and excited to get going,” said Passmore ahead of the event. “It is such a disappointment that Ukraine won’t be here and we send our best wishes and support for them.

“Our aim while we are here is to be the best we can, individually and collectively, and if we can, who knows where it will take us. Of course, we want to win every game!” The first fixture is now against a reasonably well-known opponent, Ireland having travelled to England for a training camp a couple of weeks ago and having enjoyed a series win over GB last summer.

But just 10 of the 20 players were named for the December date for this World Cup, showing quite a turnaround in the interim with 13 teenagers involved.

South Africa, in the final group game, will be a more experienced line-up and some well-known opponents with Kayla de Waal, Tamlyn Kock and Olympian Edith Molikoe part of the indoor tour party to Gormanston in February.

“It is a massively important event for the development of these players,” Passmore added of the special opportunity to test their mettle on such a stage and against different style of opposition.

“They have been in our system for three or four years but developing outside of Europe and playing teams from all around the world on a different continent, only then can you establish and understand where they are going in hockey.” 

 Domestically, it’s phase one of the women’s EYHL2 playoff series with Corinthian up against Cork C of I and Queen’s hosting UCC.

In both cases, the hosts will be the favourites. Corinthian built up for the date with a good value 3-2 win in midweek against Monkstown, ending the sky blues perfect record in Leinster and EYHL2 competition.

Cork C of I, though, have won their last two trips on the road – at NUIG and Lurgan – which ultimately saw them through.

Fixtures

Tomorrow: Womens Junior World Cup Pool A: Ireland v England, Potchefstroom 4pm.

EYHL Division 2 quarter-finals: Corinthian v Cork C of I, Whitechurch Park, 1.15pm; Queens University v UCC, Malone Playing Fields, 12.45pm.

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