Thursday, July 22, 2010

Six debutants in for Scotland series

Gene Muller has named six uncapped players in his squad for this weekend’s three-match series against Scotland in Stirling this weekend.

The selection comes 13 months before Ireland’s first shot at claiming an Olympic spot at the European championships in Monchengladbach in late August 2011 with this series – and three games against Belgium in a fortnight – a showcase for the possibles with ten probables rested.

Hermes trio Niamh Atcheler, Chloe Watkins and Anna O’Flanagan are all included in the experimental panel as is Old Alex goalkeeper Pamela Smithwick. Jean McDonnell, after three years as the country’s top scorer in the domestic game, gets her chance to stake a claim in the forward line.

Miriam Crowley is the one non-Leinster new inclusion, the UCC woman joining club mate Audrey O’Flynn in the selection.

The squad is shy on caps bar the Ulster trio of Emma Clarke, Alex Speers and Shirley McCay. The three are based abroad and so unlikely to be named in the centralised panel. Nor is Lizzie Colvin as the Loreto player is going to take up an Erasmus option for the coming year and so is included, too.

Defenders Michelle Harvey and Cliodhna Sargent are the two others included from the World Cup qualifying squad but Emma Stewart, Lauren Barr and Rachel Mulligan – squad members in 2009 – look to be out of favour.

They face Scotland three times this weekend before facing Belgium in another three match series in early August.

Muller, meanwhile, has released the specific details of the Central Participation Programme to the respective clubs.

Players will undertake full squad sessions in Dublin on Sundays and Mondays with the centralised panel then taking in Tuesday and Wednesday sessions in Dublin along with a pair of strength and conditioning sessions.

This programme will run from October 18 on a three weeks out of four basis with players available to play club matches on the same rota; a schedule which will run until the Europeans and probably on until the Olympic qualifiers or, indeed, the Olympics.

Playing in midweek league or cup matches, though, have been ruled and club training will only be factored into the programme in Irish Senior or IHL weeks.

International build-up matches are currently not likely to be scheduled in mid-season, with April 2011 pencilled in as the date for the next series of games.

Ireland’s men, meanwhile, will travel to France for a five-nations competition against the hosts, Poland, Malaysia and Scotland.

The tournament runs from August 24 to 29 with a squad to be named nearer to the time.

Ireland squad for Scotland series (Club, caps):
Emma Gray (GK) (Hermes, 14) Niamh Atcheler (Hermes, 0), Emma Clarke (Capt, Leicester, 95), Lizzie Colvin (Loreto, 33), Miriam Crowley (UCC, 0), Nicci Daly (Loreto, 5), Nikki Evans (Railway Union, 5), Michelle Harvey (Pegasus, 38), Sinead McCarthy (Cork Harlequins, 3), Shirley McCay (Dragons, 91), Jean McDonnell (Railway Union, 0), Anna O'Flanagan (Hermes, 0), Audrey O'Flynn (UCC, 14), Stephanie Quinn (Armagh, 4), Cliodhna Sargent (Cork Harlequins, 65), Pam Smithwick (GK) (Old Alex, 0), Alex Speers (Pegasus, 78), Chloe Watkins (Hermes, 0)
Rested: Mary Goode; Eimear Cregan; Lisa Jacob; Roisin Flinn; Bridget Cleland; Nikki Symmons; Emma Smyth; Niamh Small; Megan Frazer; Louisa Healy

Match Schedule:
Friday, July 23 (7pm): Ireland vs Scotland, Stirling
Saturday, July 24 (4pm): Ireland vs Scotland, Stirling
Sunday, July 25 (12pm): Ireland vs Scotland, Stirling
Friday, August 6 (7pm): Ireland vs Beglium, Belfield
Saturday, August 7 (4pm): Ireland vs Beglium, Belfield
Sunday, August 8 (12pm): Ireland vs Beglium, Belfield

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