Ballymoney’s international hockey stars Katie Mullan and Megan Frazer are set for next weekend’s all-important World League 2 competition at UCD in Dublin.
The Irish squad was selected following a test series against Spain in January and an intense training camp in Dublin in March with both local girls featuring in the squad of eighteen.
Ireland (Pool A) will be the highest ranked in the tournament which will see them pitted against the Ukraine (March 14th), Canada (March 15th) and Turkey (March 17th) initially. Pool B is comprised of Belarus, Chile, Austria and Lithuania. The tournament will take place over nine days (six match days) with both a pool and knock out stage.
World League 2 is an important step on the road to Rio 2016 for Ireland and the team need to finish in the top two in order to qualify for the Olympic Qualifiers also known as World League 3.
Irish Captain Megan Frazer is looking forward to the challenge and is positive her side can progress: “The preparations for this tournament have stretched back to last summer where we have beaten a number of teams ranked above us, and teams that played in the World Cup. That gives us a boost in terms of experience and confidence that we can battle with top teams and get results.
“Obviously having a high ranking comes with pressure to win but thats something we are going to embrace and not shy away from. It will be great playing in front of a home crowd as that support can often be the ‘12th man’. We’re optimistic after all our preparation that we can make it out of WL2 into WL3.”
Coach Darren Smith said “We’re very excited to be hosting World League 2 and playing in front of our home crowd. It’s going to be a tough tournament with eight good teams, and Canada, Chile, Belarus and the Ukraine in particular all vying for top spots.”