Get To Know The Green Army Defence

Shirley McCay

Debut: January 2007 v Canada

Caps: 267

International goals: 6

Current club: Pegasus

Previous club: Ulster Elks, KHC Dragons, Old Alex, Omagh

School: Omagh Academy

Position: Defence/Midfield

The most capped female sportswoman in Ireland, Shirley McCay is now in her 11th year as part of the Irish team, providing a wealth of experience and a tenacious attitude combined with an eye for a long pass from the back. She has gone through three tough Olympic qualifying campaigns, narrowly missing out on places at 2012 and 2016, and six European Championships before finally getting to the promised land with this World Cup qualification, a just reward for her enduring efforts. McCay was part of the side that won silver at the Champions Challenge I in Glasgow in 2014. In her early days, she went to school at Omagh Academy, helping win their only Kate Russell All-Ireland Schoolgirls Championship in 2005. She went on to have two successful spells with Ulster Elks, winning two Irish Senior Cups, either side of a spell at KHC Dragons in Belgium and time in Dublin with Old Alex.

Zoe Wilson

Debut: January 2016 v Spain

Caps: 73

International goals: 8

Current club: Belfast Harlequins

Previous club: Randalstown, University of Syracuse, Harvestehuder THC

School: Ballyclare HS

Position: Defender

Zoe Wilson has been a key component of the Irish defence since she broke into the team in 2016 following a season in the US with Syracuse University where she won an NCAA Championship. It followed an incredibly successful youth career, captaining Ireland’s Under-18s to an unbeaten victory at the EuroHockey Youth Championships II in Italy in 2015. An impressive showing at the Hawkes Bay Cup in 2016 saw her cement her place in the senior squad and she made her ranking tournament debut in January 2017 at the World League Round 2 in Malaysia, playing 33 times for Ireland during the year. She had initially come to prominence when she scored the winning goal in the Ulster Schools Senior Cup for Ballyclare HS at just 14. After school, she moved from her club, Randalstown, to the USA before returning to Europe, spending a year in Germany with Harvestehuder THC before linking up with Belfast Harlequins.

Roisin Upton

Debut: November 2016 v Scotland

Caps: 40

International goals: 8

Current club: Cork Harlequins

Previous club: Catholic Institute, UConn Huskies

School: Crescent Comprehensive College

Position: Midfield/defender

Roisin Upton is a relative newcomer to the Irish team, making her debut in November 2016 before establishing herself as one of the driving forces in either midfield or defence. She had been on Graham Shaw’s radar for a long time from her performances at youth level and the coach twice tried to get her involved but for a hip injury in 2015 and then a stress fracture in early 2016 to delay her introduction. Those calls came following an incredible spell in the US where she won two NCAA titles – named an All-American both times – with the UConn Huskies, captaining the side in 2015. Just a month after her debut, she went straight into the tournament squad for World League Round 2 in Malaysia, the start of the World Cup qualifying process. She grew up in Limerick, captaining Crescent Comprehensive College to the Munster title and helped Catholic Institute break up Cork Harlequins’ monopoly of Munster club success.

Elena Tice

Debut: November 2016 v Scotland

Caps: 68

International goals: 6

Current club: UCD

Previous club: Loreto

School: St Gerard’s

Position: Defender

Despite her tender years, Lena Tice has already amassed over a combined 100 caps across cricket and hockey. She made her cricket debut at just 13 and 272 days and went on to win 40 caps across T20 and ODIs before turning her focus to hockey. On that front, she debuted a fortnight before her 18th birthday but quickly established herself in the national set-up, earning selection for the Hawkes Bay Cup in April 2016 just a couple of months before her Leaving Certificate. The defender has a wide range of passes and has been an almost ever-present since her debut. She led St Gerard’s to a first-ever Leinster schoolgirls Senior Cup title in 2015, scoring the winning goal in the final, and was head girl a year later before earning an Ad Astra scholarship to UCD. She was born in England and lived in USA and Austria before her family settled in Wicklow.

Yvonne O’Byrne

Debut: January 2014 v Spain

Caps: 113

International goals: 5

Current club: Cork Harlequins

Previous club: n/a

School: Mount Mercy

Position: Defender

The dynamic defender has been a pivotal part of the Irish side since her major tournament debut in 2015 at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Valencia – the World League Semi-Final. The Cork woman has helped her country to gold at the 2015 EuroHockey Championships II in Prague and World League Round 2 in Malaysia and, since June 2017, she has played in over 28 consecutive games for Ireland. She took up hockey at Mount Mercy where she made the senior team at the age of just 14, winning the All Ireland Schools Kate Russell Cup that same year. O’Byrne captained Munster at each underage level as well as her club, Cork Harlequins, when just 20, winning the Munster senior league.

Megan Frazer

Debut: June 2008 v Wales

Caps: 128

International goals: 30

Current club: Mannheimer HC

Previous club: Ballymoney, Ulster Elks, University of Maryland Terrapins

School: Foyle and Londonderry College

Position: Defence/Midfield

One of the most talented players Ireland have ever produced, Irish coach Graham Shaw will hope Megan Frazer can put her injury woes behind her after a nightmare 20-month run. A cruciate knee ligament injury has kept her out for that time and while she returned to action in May at the European Cup with her club side, Mannheimer HC, she since had complications which required further keyhole surgery. In her youth, she was highly decorated during her time at Foyle and Londonderry College, top scoring on the hockey field for three seasons and leading the school to a maiden Ulster schools title in 2009. She also excelled at soccer and cricket at youth level and was named the Derry & District Young Sportswoman of the Year for 2005/06. It saw her elevated to the national team while still in school and she played in the 2009 Euros before departing for the US and the University of Maryland Terrapins. There, she was a three-time All-American and won the NCAA Honda Sports Awards as the nation’s best player. She was made Irish captain in 2014 by coach Darren Smith at the age of 23 and led the side to Champions Challenge I silver in Glasgow. In 2015 in Valencia, she came within a width of a post of sending Ireland to a first Olympic Games, her shot rebounding out in a shoot-out against China, an effort that would have sent the team to Rio. On the club front, she helped Ballymoney reach the Irish Senior Cup final before moving to the US and then won the title with Ulster Elks on her return. She moved to Mannheim in 2016 but sustained her injury soon after. Megan returned to international action after almost 2 years away as she played in the recent fixtures against Italy and Chile.

Hannah Matthews

Debut: June 2014 vs Italy

Caps: 108

International goals: 4

Current club: Loreto

Previous club: n/a

School: Loreto Beaufort

Position: Defender

Daughter of Irish rugby international Phillip, Hannah Matthews reached her 100th international cap in June in the series against Canada at Serpentine Avenue. Her ranking tournament debut came in front of a home crowd at World League Round 2 at Belfield in 2015 where she was part of a defence that conceded just twice in six games. That year ultimately ended in disappointment at the World League Semi-Finals. From 2015 to now, she has been part of each ranking event, providing an ice cool calmness. On the club front, aged 18, she memorably scored the winning penalty stroke to win Loreto – her only club – the Irish Senior Cup, showing nerves of steel. More recently, she captained the Beaufort club to the EY Champions Trophy in May. She combines an international hockey career with her work as a primary school teacher.

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