First Irish Under-21 women’s indoor panel named for December Euros

The squad for Ireland’s first ever entry in the women’s junior European Championships has been named as they prepare for the competition in December in Sveti Ivan Zelina in Croatia.

The side features 16-year-old Emma Nolan who becomes the first Boyne Hockey Club player to be called up to an international panel. Despite her age, she has amassed a relatively high amount of competitive indoor experience through the PSI series with the North Dublin Knights.

Old Alex’s Mikayla Power is another 16-year-old who has been enjoying a break-out season on the outdoor circuit, scoring four times already in the EY Hockey League with some serious style.

At the other end of the scale, goalkeeper Millie Regan has 12 senior indoor caps, taking in the December 2019 tour to South Africa in addition to the European indoors a month later. She is one of two goalkeepers, named alongside Muckross shot-stopper Aoife Glennon.

Kilkenny native Hannah Kelly has been busy of late. She was named on the reserve list for the Junior World Cup and gets her chance at this tournament alongside her Catholic Institute club mate Fiona Kelly, who originally hails from Galway.

Laura Graham is another with strong youth indoor experience in the English Super 6s competitions, winning Under-16 national silver with her club Isca and Under-18 schools silver with Cranleigh. She is now based in Essen in Germany with Limburger HC.

Rebecca McMullen impressed domestically in the Leinster indoor league with Muckross before Covid hit while Katie Kimber is another strong product of Ards, a club who have set a standard for Irish indoor in the past decade.

Emily Kealy (Monkstown), Laura Noble (Trinity) and Leah O’Shea (Cork Harlequins) shone during the trial process, making the transition over from the outdoor game in impressive fashion.

Kealy scored the winner in the 2020 Leinster Schools Senior Cup for Loreto Beaufort and was a member of the Leinster Under-21 interpro panel. Noble, meanwhile, has been part of the Irish Under-21 outdoor panel with Leaving Cert student O’Shea featuring this summer for both the Irish Under-19 and 21 sides.

For co-coach Gareth Myburgh, it has been a tricky task to get this new squad together due to the limitations on indoor sport but he is delighted with the side that has come together.

“We were constantly checking the updated government Covid advice and taking guidance from Hockey Ireland on when we could start the trials and eventually started on October 17th.

“After four weeks and eight trial sessions, we had the very difficult task of picking the squad to travel to Croatia. We were fortunate to have Kenny Carroll and Ross Willis assist us with the selection process and the team selected demonstrates a good balance of players with international outdoor experience, through the development squads, and players with strong indoor experience.

“It’s always a privilege to be able to work with talented players and this group certainly has some serious talent. We look forward to travelling to Croatia and have no doubt that this group will do Ireland proud at the tournament.”

At the tournament, Ireland will compete in a four-team group with Italy, Sweden and Croatia with the action fast and furious. Ireland play two games on December 18, meeting the Italians first before taking on hosts Croatia. They conclude their tournament against Sweden at 8.45am local time the following day.

Women’s EuroHockey Junior Indoor Championship II (Sveti Ivan Zelina, Croatia; December 17-19, 2021)
Rebecca McMullen (Muckross)
Emily Kealy (Monkstown)
Mikayla Power (Old Alex)
Fiona Kelly (Catholic Institute)
Emma Nolan (Boyne)
Laura Graham (Limburger HC, Germany)
Aoife Glennon (Muckross)
Leah O’Shea (Cork Harlequins)
Millie Regan (University of Surrey/Old Georgians)
Hannah Kelly (Catholic Institute)
Laura Noble (Trinity)
Katie Kimber (Ards)

Fixtures (times local)
December 18:
Ireland v Italy, 11am; Ireland v Croatia, 5.30pm
December 19: Ireland v Sweden, 8.45am

Coaches: Gareth Myburgh, Rob Abbott
Physio: Thomas Murray
Manager: Niamh Small
Video & technical analyst: Ross Willis