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Hockey Ireland have announced that they have accepted an invitation to the Women’s FIH Junior World Cup which takes place in Potchefstroom, South Africa from December 5th to 16th 2021.
The Junior Green Army will make their first appearance in the competition as a result – they had initially finished just outside the qualification places at the 2019 EuroHockey Junior Championships in Valencia, ending seventh when six European spots were on offer.
However, the withdrawal of Australia and New Zealand meant two spots were vacant and Hockey Ireland were granted one after successfully making their case.
Head coach David Passmore says that the invitation offers a huge opportunity for the current crop of U21s.
“We are delighted to take up this place at December’s Junior World Cup,” Passmore said. “Taking part in a global competition of this stature is massive for Ireland and will offer an amazing environment for our young athletes to grow and develop.
“Over the past few years, we have seen the importance of nurturing this age group for the senior team with several players already advancing from the Junior Green Army to play in the Olympic Games.”
Hockey Ireland High Performance Director Adam Grainger said that the organisation contacted the FIH when the opportunity arose to make sure they were being considered for a spot.
Grainger said: “We see the Junior World Cup as a vital tournament and getting six games in such a setting, against high-quality opposition, is exactly what we need as we pursue becoming a fixture among the world’s elite nations.”
While the tournament is under three months away, Ireland do have an extensive training base to work from.
In preparation for the tournament, coach Passmore has named a 25-player panel with the final squad anticipated to be named in late October.
Most of the U21 squad have been training with Sean Dancer’s seniors ahead of the World Cup qualifiers in October.
During the summer, the Junior Green Army followed an extensive high-performance programme, featuring series wins over the Wales senior squad and a GB elite development programme outfit.
They were also highly competitive at a Six Nations tournament in Spain and it gives Passmore confidence they can impress in South Africa in December.
“This summer, the Junior Green Army has worked exceptionally hard in an extensive schedule of fixtures,” Passmore noted. “We feel this puts us in a good position to make an impact at the World Cup and we cannot wait to see what we can do on this stage.”
Group and fixture details will be confirmed in due course.
Ireland U21 Junior World Cup Panel
Gemma Ferguson (GK, Ulster Elks / UUJ)
Ellie McLoughlin (GK, UCD / UCD)
Holly Micklem (GK, Old Alex / UCD)
Charlotte Beggs (Ulster Elks / UUJ)
Nadia Benallal (Beeston, England / Nottingham Trent)
Caoimhe Byrne (UCD / UCD)
Sophia Cole (UCD / UCD)
Amy Elliott (UCD / UCD)
Christina Hamill (Loreto / TU Dublin)
Anna Horan (Catholic Institute / Mary Immaculate College)
Hannah Kelly (Trinity)
Katie Jane Marshall (UCD / UCD)
Sarah MacAuley (UCD / UCD)
Niamh McIvor (Pegasus / Queens)
Lisa Mulcahy (Loreto / UCD)
Siofra Murdoch (Harvard University, USA)
Aisling Murray (Loreto / Trinity College)
Laura Noble (Trinity / Trinity College)
Siofra O’Brien (Loreto / TU Dublin)
Emma Paul (UCD / UCD)
Caoimhe Perdue (Capt, UCC / UCC)
Yasmin Pratt (Loreto / IT Carlow)
Ellen Reid (Loughborough Students / Loughborough University)
Muireann Scanlon (Catholic Institute / UCC)
Caitlin Sherin (Capt, Loreto / DCU)