The Ireland women's hockey coach, Sean Dancer has named his panel for July’s World Cup campaign which gets underway on July 2 at the Amsterdam’s Wagener Stadium.
It is a fresh-faced side with five uncapped players set to make their official debuts in the competition as the post-Olympic evolution of the Green Army continues apace.
Irish U-21 captain and UCC star, Caoimhe Perdue, along with Christina Hamill and Siofra O’Brien all starred in the Junior World Cup in April and impressed - alongside Katie McKee and Charlotte Beggs - in recent challenge matches against Scotland and in Japan to land their place in the line-up.
Also in the squad are fellow Munster players Naomi Carroll and Roisin Upton, both former Cork Harlequins stars and now playing with Catholic Institute.
At the other end of the spectrum, the side features five players from the groundbreaking 2018 run to the World Cup final with Katie Mullan reprising her role as captain.
Ayeisha McFerran was named goalkeeper of the tournament in London and they are among the leaders in the group along with Lena Tice, Róisín Upton, and Deirdre Duke.
“The team are excited about our progress and the opportunities that lie ahead over the next month, and know that anything is possible at a World Cup,” Dancer said of the selection.
“Our entire group, players, and staff have been working extremely hard over the last month, on the basics that a new group has to do. This has been a tough but a very enjoyable period.” Ireland starts off on July 2nd against the hosts and current world number one side, the Netherlands, with the 9,500-strong venue already sold out.
Next on the agenda is a July 5th date against tournament debutantes Chile (world rank: 17) before concluding the group stage on July 6th against Germany (world rank: 5).
The top spot in the group advances directly to the quarter-final stage with the second and third place nations, facing an extra game to reach that stage in the crossover playoffs. Fourth in the group will go into the 9th to 16th place playoffs.
Ireland’s initial run of fixtures takes place in Amsterdam and if they can emulate their 2018 run, the semi-final and final will be played in Terrassa, Spain.
“The World Cup is always a tough tournament but what a great challenge to be playing the best team in the World, 1st game up, in front of their home crowd,” Dancer added.
“We have set our sights firmly on a positive result versus Chile, and will approach the playoff games day by day, when we get to that point.
“We are very grateful for the continuous support from our sponsors SoftCo, Park Developments, and Saba along with Sport Ireland and Sport NI as well as and the hockey community. We would simply not be able to do without.”
The side concludes its preparations for the World Cup at Belfield this week with the SoftCo Series with Ireland taking on Japan four times. The first game is on Saturday, June 18 (4pm) with the subsequent games on Sunday, June 19 (4pm), Wednesday, June 22 (5pm), and Thursday, June 23 (7pm).
The series runs parallel to the Uniphar Under-23 Five Nations tournament with all tickets available via the Hockey Ireland website (https://hockey.ie/buy-tickets/)
The squad is: Ayeisha McFerran (goalkeeper); Elizabeth Murphy, (goalkeeper); Caoimhe Perdue, Charlotte Beggs, Christina Hamill, Deirdre Duke, Ellen Curran, Erin Getty, Hannah McLoughlin, Katie McKee, Katie Mullan, Lena Tice, Michelle Carey, Naomi Carroll, Roisin Upton, Sarah Hawkshaw, Sarah McAuley, Sarah Torrans, Siofra O’Brien, Zara Malseed.
Group A schedule, all at Wagener Stadium, Amsterdam: July 2: Ireland v Netherlands, 6.30pm; July 5: Ireland v Chile, 1pm and July 6: Ireland v Germany, 3.30pm.