There isn’t a participant in Eire unaware of the magnitude of the problem the Irish girls face of their first match of the European Championships in Amsterdam in opposition to host facet Netherlands (2.30pm Irish time, Stay RTÉ 2)
The Dutch aren’t simply the very best facet in world hockey however one which has dominated the place for the final 4 years. For Eire’s half, they haven’t crushed the Netherlands since 1963, lengthy earlier than the primary Euro Hockey championships got here into being.
The final time the edges met was on the 2018 World Cup ultimate in London, the place six objectives went a technique in opposition to Eire, the Dutch rising as worthy world champions.
Since then, Eire have modified up the 18-player squad with 13 of the world silver-medal profitable panel travelling to the Wagener Stadium. Deirdre Duke, a World Cup veteran, is available in as a late call-up with Sarah Torrans lacking out on her first rating match via damage.
The Dutch have misplaced only one fixture of any variety since London and likewise picked up the 2017 and 2019 European titles, which implies they’re now searching for three in a row. Of the 14 editions of the championships performed because the first in Lille in 1984, the Dutch have gained 10.
However Eire reside in a brand new period of confidence and ambition after their World Cup run and beating Canada in 2019 to qualify for the summer season Olympic Video games for the primary time.
“We’re very pushed and we don’t go into any sport pondering we’re going to lose it,” mentioned Ayeisha McFerran, twice a nominee for world goalkeeper of the yr. “We’re not about that. Over the previous couple of years, we’ve actually developed so we by no means suppose ‘let’s preserve the rating down’.
“As an Irish workforce, we wished to flip that mindset and go ahead. We wish to transfer up a rating on the planet and the one approach to try this is by profitable medals. First, although, we have to put in performances, myself included.”
The Irish facet have additionally pointed to the higher entry they should coaching amenities in Abbotstown, the place the workforce relies, with health ranges higher than they’ve ever been.
Eire may also meet the Dutch within the first match of the championships, whereas on the World Cup three years in the past, it was within the ultimate sport, a spot the workforce had by no means been earlier than. There was a facet of operating out of street in London. Contemporary legs they count on will rely for one thing.
There are three World Cup locations obtainable and likewise 4 direct qualification spots for the 2023 European Championships, which strikes to a brand new format after this occasion. Each of these ambitions could be seemingly achieved by Eire with a primary ever run to the semi-finals.
A realistic take could be to deal with the second and third video games within the pool in opposition to Scotland and Spain, two sides Eire have crushed this yr as a part of their build-up.
A win in opposition to Scotland on Monday is a should earlier than the harder problem of Spain arrives on Wednesday. The winner of that match is more likely to end second within the pool and safe a semi-final spot. Spain, ranked seventh on the planet to Eire’s eighth, gained the bronze medal on the 2018 World Cup.
UCD’s Michelle Carey is anticipated to realize her first worldwide cap, whereas her Belfield team-mate, Hannah McLoughlin, though capped 14 instances ,will make her rating match debut. Shirley McCay, on the different finish of an impressive profession with 306 caps, performs in her eighth and ultimate European Championships.
Ayeisha McFerran (SV Kampong, 100 caps) – GK, Lizzie Murphy (Loreto, 13) – GK, Michelle Carey (UCD, 0), Naomi Carroll (Catholic Institute, 111), Lizzie Colvin (Belfast Harlequins, 196), Nicci Daly (Loreto, 189), Nikki Evans (Outdated Alex, 198), Megan Frazer (Belfast Harlequins, 136), Sarah Hawkshaw (Railway Union, 33), Hannah Matthews (Loreto, 147), Shirley McCay (Pegasus, 306), Hannah McLoughlin (UCD, 14), Katie Mullan (Ballymoney, 193) – capt, Anna O’Flanagan (Muckross, 207) – vice-capt, Lena Tice (Outdated Alex, 109), Róisín Upton (Catholic Institute, 76), Chloe Watkins (Monkstown, 226), Deirdre Duke (Outdated Alex, 141).
Travelling reserves: Sarah McAuley (Muckross, 0), Zara Malseed (Ards, 0)
Fixtures (all instances Irish)
Saturday, June fifth: Eire v Netherlands, 2.30pm
Monday, June seventh: Eire v Scotland, 11.30am
Wednesday, June ninth: Eire v Spain, 11.30am
Friday, June eleventh: Semi-finals/relegation pool
Saturday/Sunday, June twelfth/thirteenth: Medal matches/relegation pool