Ireland set for three game series against Scotland

Ulster Elks Megan Frazer
Ulster Elks Megan Frazer

The Ireland women’s hockey team are to play three matches against Scotland in Glasgow at the start of next month after plans for a trip to Spain fell through due to financial reasons.

It will the team’s first outings since they were crowned EuroHockey second-tier champions in Prague in August which saw the Irish promoted back to the first division of European competition at the first attempt.

In June Ireland failed narrowly to make it to the Rio Olympics after losing to China in a penalty shoot-out.

After a 1-1 draw in regulation time, Ireland fell to a heart-breaking 4-3 sudden-death loss in the penalty decider.

It was rough justice on the Ireland team, captained by Ulster Elks star Megan Frazer, who had earlier in the competition scored memorable wins over fifth-ranked USA and South Africa, who are 11th on the world list.

Since then two players have announced their retirement from international hockey, namely Railway Union duo of Kate Dillon and Emma Smyth.

There has also been a change in the back room team as New Zealander Darren Smith indicated his intention to quit shortly before the trip to Spain.

Graham Shaw took over the hot-seat with Pegasus coach Arlene Boyles promoted to assistant coach from a nominal role as team manager.

Shaw made a successful start to his reign as he steered his charges to the gold medals in the Euros in the Czech capital in early August.

That outcome secured Ireland a swift return to the top flight of European competition after Scotland beat them at the last such competition to relegate them into the second tier.

The Scots managed to preserve their top-flight status at the last Europeans in London and so will be expected to give Ireland a tough challenge next month.

Shaw may well introduce some of the younger members of his training panel.