Dave Passmore has announced the first Irish women’s indoor international squad since 1990, naming a 14-player panel for a December trip to Durban, South Africa for six test matches.
The Irish Ladies Hockey Union — the governing body at the time — disbanded its support for the short-form version of the game soon after their sixth-place finish in the European Championship top tier.
Since then, the Irish indoor club scene has been under the radar but, under the stewardship of Rob Abbott, has enjoyed an upsurge in interest of late.
This winter will see the men’s and women’s competitions across the island expanding in numbers while Abbott has been a key figure in pushing for international teams.
To this end, Irish teams will play in the third tier of European Championships in January, with the men heading to Santander and the women to Slovakia.
Like each international youth team in Ireland, the sides will be effectively “self-funded”, with no money coming from the governing body.
Spar and the South African Hockey Association, however, have made this trip possible with support covering accommodation and internal flights.
The side does not include any of the outdoor selection who recently qualified for the Olympic Games but Catholic Institute’s Naomi Carroll — the sole Munster player included — will line out, returning to Irish kit for the first time since July 2018.
Goalkeeper Millie Regan is another interesting inclusion. She played with the English Under-18s last summer outdoors but qualifies through her Irish father. These caps mean she will only be eligible for Ireland in either code unless she takes a three-year cooling-off period.
She plays with East Grinstead in the English league, helping them to win national glory. There, she linked up with Ards woman Chloe Brown who will co-captain the Irish side alongside Railway Union’s Orla Fox.
It does mean a few postponements are likely for the women’s EY Hockey League on December 7. Should clubs with players involved apply for a refixed date, Hockey Ireland have confirmed they will grant the request.
The EYHL this weekend features double-headers all round, with both Catholic Institute and Cork Harlequins playing twice in Belfast. Insta will look to build on their debut draw with a tough outing at Pegasus on Saturday and then Belfast Harlequins on Sunday at Deramore Park. For Cork’s Quins, the order is reversed as they aim to back up their draw with UCD.