Get To Know The Green Army Midfield

Gillian Pinder

Debut: April 2011 v France

Caps: 137

International goals: 7

Current club: Pembroke

Previous club: Hermes, UCD, Syracuse University

School: St Andrew’s College, Booterstown

Position: Midfield

A wonderful, floating midfielder, Gillian Pinder has deceptive pace and an ability to ghost away from opponents in the blink of an eye. Her cracking top corner strike against Poland in the World League Semi-Final in a 2-0 win was one of the marquee moments from the tournament that brought World Cup qualification and will live long in the memory. She has amassed over 130 caps and contested three European campaigns and the painful 2015 Olympic qualifying series while also winning silver at the 2014 Champions Challenge I in Glasgow. Like Chloe Watkins, Gillian Pinder was a central force in the St Andrew’s College side that won the Kate Russell All-Ireland Schools title in 2010. She headed overseas on a scholarship for a season to Syracuse University in New York, reaching the NCAA semi-finals in 2012, before returning to Ireland and UCD as a member of the Ad Astra Elite Athlete Academy, with whom she won the national double in 2014 and 2017. Following her business and law student days at UCD, she now plays her club hockey with Pembroke Wanderers.

Chloe Watkins

Debut: July 2010 v Scotland

Caps: 194

International goals: 17

Current club: HC Bloemendaal (Netherlands)

Previous club: Hermes, UCD, Club de Campo, Hermes-Monkstown

School: St Andrew’s College, Booterstown

Position: Midfield

Chloe Watkins is part of a hockey dynasty, becoming an Irish international alongside her brother Gareth and father Gordon. Her talent was apparent throughout her teenage years, lining out in Hermes’ midfield in their All-Ireland club championships win aged 16 in 2008 while her Irish debut came a couple of months after her Leaving Cert at 18. She has since won a glut of medals at all levels of the game. At St Andrew’s College, she won the Kate Russell All-Ireland Schoolgirls Championships in 2010 before going to UCD where she won an Irish Senior Cup in 20012. 2014 saw her line out for Club de Campo in Madrid, while there on Erasmus, and win both the Spanish league and cup title. Back at Hermes-Monkstown, she added EY Hockey League and Champions Trophy victories. Most recently, she won the Gold Cup in the Netherlands with HC Bloemendaal – coached by the iconic Teun de Nooijer – having taken a sabbatical following completion of her business qualifications from UCD. Internationally, she was part of the Champions Challenge I bronze winning side in

2012 and added silver in 2014 in Glasgow with eye-catching wins over Korea and South Africa. Still just 26, she has played in every major event since 2011, scoring the winner against India in her first ranking game way back then.

Lizzie Colvin

Debut: June 2008 v France

Caps: 160

International goals: 5

Current club: Belfast Harlequins

Previous club: Armagh, Loreto, HGC

School: Portadown College

Position: Midfield

Lizzie Colvin’s super strike against India last summer was the goal that ultimately put Ireland through to the World Cup. It came with 12 minutes to go, earning a 2-1 win and seventh place at the World League Semi-Final and on course for London. It follows an impressive 10-year career in green with over 150 caps. Her senior international debut came at the 2008 Celtic Cup just a fortnight after playing in the Junior equivalent of the event. It was the same tournament that Megan Frazer also made her debut with both going on to play in the 2009 Euros and the 2012 Olympic qualifiers. She spent 18 months out of action due to a cruciate knee ligament injury in 2013, eventually making her comeback in 2015 in fine style to regain her spot as a gritty midfielder. Her beginnings in the sport were with the incredible Armagh club side that won six successive promotions to ultimately qualify for the Irish Hockey League. She became the seventh player from the club to earn an Irish cap while still at school. Colvin moved to Dublin for college, linking up with Loreto who she won the inaugural all ireland league in 2008 and Irish Senior Cup with in 2009. She spent the 2010/2011 season in the Netherlands playing with HGC while on Erasmus and eventually returned to Ulster last September to play with Belfast Harlequins and take up a job as an employment and corporate law solicitor in DWF (NI) LLP.

Ali Meeke

Debut: 2013 v Canada

Caps: 114

International goals: 1

Current club: Loreto

Previous club: Corinthian

School: High School, Rathgar

Position: Midfield

A utility player who can do a job in both defence and midfield, Ali Meeke has some of the trickiest skills in the squad with an ability to wriggle out of most situations. Her debut came aged 22 against India before getting a call for the Champions Challenge I later that same month, playing five times in a tournament that yielded wins over higher ranked Korea and South Africa en route to a silver medal. She played a full role in the 2016 Olympic qualifying campaign and the 2015 European B division success but missed out on the World Cup qualifiers in 2017 before returning to ranking tournament action at the European Championships last August in Amsterdam. On the club front, she grew up at Corinthian Hockey Club and High School in Rathgar before moving to Loreto in her late teens, winning a number of national titles. During her youth, she also played Gaelic football with Wanderers. Most recently, she was named player of the tournament at the EY Champions Trophy as she helped Loreto to the national crown in May. She works in a variety of sports roles and is trained in strength and conditioning as well as coaching.

Nicci Daly

Debut: February 2010 v Belgium

Caps: 163

International goals: 14

Current club: Loreto

Previous club: Glenanne, Muckross, Holcombe

School: High School Rathgar

Position: Midfield

A speedster with skills to burn, Nicci Daly has overcome a foot injury to take up her place in the Irish panel for the World Cup. Since her debut in 2010, she has had a colourful career with Ireland, picking up a Champions Challenge I silver in 2014 and playing a full part in the 2016 Olympic qualifying campaign. Her club career has taken her via Glenanne, Muckross and English club Holcombe to a couple of successful spells with Loreto. She previously played for the Dublin ladies Gaelic football team and is a keen motor-racing enthusiast, borne from her family’s history. Her late father Vivion raced in Formula Ford while her uncle Derek was a Formula One driver. To this end, Daly has spent time in the US working with Juncos Racing and she is planning to take part in the Formula Female Race Against Cancer following the World Cup at Mondello Park. She spent the first half of the current season in the US in Indianapolis, backing up her motor racing credentials while also coaching at University of Indiana with the Hoosiers. Daly triumphantly returned to Loreto for the second half of the campaign, playing a pivotal role in their EY Champions Trophy success.

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