Irish girls to help Germans celebrate hockey centenary
The Ireland women's team face a Nuremberg trial at the weekend when they take on mighty Germany in a double-header.
Gene Muller's squad have been invited over to help the Germans celebrate their 100th birthday as a hockey federation.
There is a long and friendly history between the two nations on the hockey front, dating back to the 1994 World Cup which was hosted in Dublin.
But there will be a serious purpose to the Irish visit and, indeed, for their German hosts.
Both countries are preparing for the forthcoming European Nations' Cup tournament, scheduled for Amsterdam in the summer.
In fact the games will be a dress rehearsal for that competition as the teams have been drawn together in the same pool.
Six Ulster players have been included in the 16-strong panel which is a mixture of youth and experience.
Girls like Emma Stewart and Bridget Cleland fall into the latter category with the likes of Lauren Barr and Michelle Harvey among the younger guns.
"This will be a stern test for us against the third ranked nation in the world," said Irish coach Muller. "With Germany being in our pool at the Europeans, it will be good to see how we fare."
Meanwhile, Pegasus have been drawn in the 'group of death' for next season's Irish Hockey League campaign.
They will be up against the teams which contested Sunday's final, Loreto and Hermes, as well as local rivals Randalstown, UCC and Old Alex.
Pool A is only slightly less daunting for Ballymoney and Ards with Railway Union, Pembroke and Cork teams C of I and Harlequins all there.
Irish squad v Germany: Lauren Barr (Ballymoney), Bridget Cleland (Ballymoney), Emma Clarke (Ulster Elks), Eimear Cregan (Cork Harlequins), Roisin Flinn (UCD), Emma Gray (Hermes), Michelle Harvey (Pegasus), Louisa Healy (Loreto), Lisa Jacob (UCD), Cathy McKean (Loreto), Rachel Mulligan (Armagh), Ciara O’Brien (Chelmsford), Emma Smyth (Railway Union), Emma Stewart (Armagh), Niamh Small (Loreto), Nikki Symmons (Loreto).