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Ayeisha McFerran set to be in firing line for deciders

By John Flack

There will be no such thing as a drawn match in the World League 3 tournament in Valencia later this month and Pegasus goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran will have a key role should any of Ireland's fixtures end level after the regulation 60 minutes.

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has decreed that penalties will be used to determine the outcome if the scores are tied, in another bid to make the sport more exciting for spectators watching in person or on television.

In such a scenario, the teams concerned will 'bank' one point apiece after a drawn game, with the winner of the one-on-one ice hockey style shoot-out receiving an extra point, with three being awarded for a win in normal time as usual.

The rule will apply to both the Pool stages and the knock-out phase of the competition which represents Ireland's last chance to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics as they strive for the required top-six finish.

McFerran has proved her worth on two important occasions in the recent past for club and country although she will act as understudy to Irish number one Emma Gray in regulation time.

National coach Darren Smith brought her off the bench for the shoot-out in the final of World League 2 in March and she made a crucial save in the win over Canada.

Three weeks later, the 19 year-old from Larne was again the heroine as Pegasus beat Loreto on penalties to win the Irish Hockey League.

"Of our three keepers we have, Ayeisha is the best at defending penalty shoot-outs so she's likely to be brought on if the occasion arises in Valencia." Smith confirmed.

"We have been practising shoot-outs on a regular basis and we had four after our games with Canada and the United States when we were in America over the past couple of weeks."

The Ireland squad, including six Ulster players, flew out to Spain early this morning in good time for the tournament which runs from June 10-21.

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