Kerri McDonald named in Ireland senior squad for Prague

Kerri McDonald
Kerri McDonald is in line to make her Ireland international debut

Kerri McDonald is in line to make her Ireland senior international debut after being named in the squad for the European Hockey Championship II tournament in Prague from 18-26 July.

The Ards midfielder had been part of the extended training panel after impressing for her club and is one of six Ulster players named in the squad.

There are seven changes from the panel which failed to qualify for Rio 2016 through the World League 3 tournament.

Graham Shaw is the new Ireland coach.

The former Annadale coach takes over from Darren Smith as Head Coach as Ireland attempt to return to the top flight of European hockey.

McDonald was instrumental in helping Ards claim a Premier League-Ulster Shield double last season and before that was vice-captain of the Ireland Under-21 squad at the European Championships in 2014.

McDonald's clubmate Chloe Brown, who narrowly missed out on the trip to Spain for the World League, will make her tournament debut, having played some friendly matches.

Nikki Evans is not included as she has failed to recover sufficiently from a double fracture of the jaw sustained in the final match in Valencia, so Naomi Carroll and Emily Beatty are recalled to the strike force.

Anna O'Flanagan, Aine Connery, Emma Gray, Lizzie Colvin are all rested for the series while Emma Smyth and Kate Dillon have retired following the World League 3 tournament.

Ireland, ranked 14th in the world, have been drawn in Pool A, along with the Czech Republic, Ukraine and France.

"The objective of this tournament is a top 2 finish to secure promotion back to A Division. This is very important for this squad and the path we want to take," said Shaw.

"With seven changes from the squad that went to Valencia it shows the real strength in depth we have in Irish hockey with the calibre of players we have called in.

"The squad selected has flexibility with multiple players able to operate in more than one position and physically fit to cope with the heat in Prague".

Ireland squad: Ayeisha McFarren, Stella Davis, Ali Meeke, Kerri McDonald, Hannah Matthews, Clio Sargent, Shirley McCay, Megan Frazer (capt), Yvonne O'Byrne, Gill Pinder, Nicki Daly, Chloe Watkins, Emily Beatty, Naomi Carroll, Chloe Brown, Deirdre Duke, Kate Lloyd, Katie Mullan.

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