David Passmore has named his travelling squad of 20 players to form Ireland’s first ever side to contest the women’s Junior World Cup in Potchefstroom, South Africa from December 5 to 17, 2021.
It comes following the Junior Green Army’s late invitation to the competition off the first reserve when Australia and New Zealand withdrew due to Covid-19 restrictions. Their involvement in the Junior World Cup has been made possible by the considerable support of SoftCo, Park Developments and new additions Uniphar who announced their sponsorship of the team which will also encompass a top international Six Nations tournament next summer.
The late invite made for a short, sharp preparation phase but coach Passmore and the panel had banked a large volume of work into an extensive summer programme, taking in series in Spain, Belfast and London.
Ireland will start their campaign on December 5 against Zimbabwe before meeting top ranked the Netherlands a day later. The pool phase concludes with a tie against Korea with the initial target to finish in the top two of the four team group to reach the quarter-finals.
The Ireland squad is largely drawn from that selection with a couple of new faces coming into the fold since October.
Olympian Sarah McAuley has linked up with the side having debuted and established herself in the senior side this summer, debuting at June’s EuroHockey Championships and then helping the senior side qualify for the 2022 World Cup.
At the other end of the spectrum, Loreto’s Aoife Taaffe made a late charge for inclusion with some excellent form on the club front helping her break into the squad of 20.
Ulster Elks’ Charlotte Beggs was part of the senior setup that travelled to Pisa for their World Cup qualifier while fellow midfielder Amy Elliott was capped for Ireland when still a teenager in 2019.
Goalkeeper Ellie McLoughlin, now with UCD having developed her trade with Naas and Muckross Hockey Clubs, has also trained through the summer with the Irish senior panel. She is one of two keepers named with Holly Micklem the other included following a super start to the season with Old Alex.
Co-captain Caoimhe Perdue tasted senior international action this year, lining out in uncapped challenge matches for Ireland’s women against Great Britain in the spring. The current UCC player is the first graduates of Cashel New Inn Hockey Club to reach this elite level and will share the leadership duties with fellow defender Caitlin Sherin.
Sherin is joined by Loreto club mates Christina Hamill, Lisa Mulcahy, Siofra O’Brien and Yasmin Pratt.
Former Banbridge duo Ellen Reid and Nadia Benallal both now ply their trade with clubs in the UK, Loughborough Students and Beeston, respectively, having moved to study.
EYHL contenders UCD provide a large batch of the panel with, in addition to McLoughlin, McAuley and Elliott, KJ Marshall, Emma Paul, Sophia Cole and Rachel Kelly getting call-ups.
Limerick woman Anna Horan has enjoyed a whirlwind return to Ireland after a season in the United States’ NCAA system, helping Catholic Institute to their highest ever position in the EY Hockey League.
Síofra Murdoch, meanwhile, is part of the Harvard University team who have reached the NCAA finals this week having won the Ivy League conference recently.
The squad is also thankful for the support of the players’ respective third level institutions in helping to work with a rapidly changing schedule to allow them to perform to their optimum level.
U21 Junior World Cup
- Ellie McLoughlin (GK) UCD / University College Dublin
- Holly Micklem (GK) Old Alex / Trinity College
- KJ Marshall (Def) UCD / University College Dublin
- Caitlin Sherin (Def) Loreto / Dublin City University (Co-Captain)
- Emma Paul (Def) UCD / University College Dublin
- Sarah McAuley (Def) UCD / University College Dublin
- Ellen Reid (Def) Loughborough Students, Eng / University of Loughborough
- Caoimhe Perdue (Def/Mid) UCC / University College Cork (Co-Captain)
- Anna Horan (Def/Mid). Catholic Institute / Mary Immaculate College
- Siofra Murdoch (Def/Mid) Harvard, USA / Harvard University
- Christina Hamill (Mid) Loreto / Technical University Dublin
- Amy Elliott (Mid) UCD / University College Dublin
- Lisa Mulcahy (Mid/Def) Loreto / University College Dublin
- Sophia Cole (Mid/Def) UCD / University College Dublin
- Charlotte Beggs (Mid) Ulster Elks / University of Ulster Jordanstown
- Siofra O’Brien (Fwd) Loreto / Technical University Dublin
- Nadia Benallal (Fwd) Beeston, Eng / Nottingham Trent University
- Rachel Kelly (Fwd/ Mid) UCD / University College Dublin
- Yasmin Pratt (Fwd) Loreto / IT Carlow
- Aoife Taaffe (Fwd) Loreto / University College Dublin
Non Travelling Reserves
- Gemma Ferguson (GK) Ulster Elks / University of Ulster Jordanstown
- Hannah Kelly (Fwd) Catholic Institute / National University of Ireland, Galway
- Eva Lavelle (Mid) UCD / University College Dublin
- Lucy Crowe (Def) Railway Union / University College Dublin
2021 Junior World Cup schedule (Potchefstroom, South Africa; all times local)
Sunday, December 5: Ireland v Zimbabwe, 9am
Monday, December 6: Ireland v Netherlands, 1pm
Tuesday, December 8: Ireland v Korea, 11am
Friday, December 11 to Thursday, December 16: playoff/classification matches