Shirley McCay all set to hit stunning double century
Shirley McCay will win her 200th senior international cap when Ireland take on former Olympic champions Germany at the World League 3 tournament in Valencia tomorrow.
The Ulster Elks midfielder has been ever-present in the squad since making her debut against Canada at a tournament in South Africa in 2007.
McCay will become only the second women's hockey player to reach the milestone and she will overtake Nikki Symmons as Ireland's most-capped sportswoman when she makes a further nine appearances.
However McCay, who was 27 on Sunday, won't be thinking too much about her achievement until tomorrow as Ireland open their Olympic qualifying campaign with an important game against South Africa today.
Ireland have a decent record against the team ranked 11th in the world - three places higher than Darren Smith's side - and defeated them on the way to winning silver medals at the Champions Challenge tournament in Glasgow just over a year ago.
With more difficult games against Germany and the US to come, Ireland will be aiming to take something from the game.
If they can open with a win, provided they defeat Uruguay on Saturday, Ireland will have a great chance of finishing third in the pool to avoid a meeting with the top finisher from the other group in the quarter-finals when a victory would earn them a trip to Rio 2016.
"We're really excited about getting started after being in Valencia for the past week or so but South Africa are a very good team," said McCay.
"But they have had quite a few changes to their squad since we last played them and they also have a new coach.
"Change is always something that can provide difficulties so we'll be looking to capitalize on that and get the three points.
"We'll hopefully be able to upset the applecart although a draw certainly wouldn't be the end of the world with a penalty shoot-out in that event and we have done well in those recently.
"We're confident we are good enough to reach the top four in the pool and maybe finish third so the opening game is vitally important for us."
World League 3 today, Pool A: China v Canada (4pm UK time); Spain v GB (6pm) POOL B: South Africa v Ireland (12noon); Germany v Uruguay (2pm)