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Former Lurgan defender is latest Ulster player to earn call-up to join Ireland's World Cup heroes

By John Flack

Serena Barr is the latest Ulster player to be called up to the Ireland women's senior training panel which has reassembled following the national team's silver medal heroics at the World Cup in London.

The 23-year old former Lurgan defender has been rewarded for some fine performances in the English Premier League with Nottingham side Beeston.

Barr faces a busy time as she has also been included in the Ireland Under-23 squad, along with twin sister Bethany (UCD) and fellow Ulster women Alana Doyle (Ards), Ruth Maguire (Pegasus) and Jessica McMaster (Queen's).

Dave Passmore's side will travel to Barcelona for three internationals against Spain from October 29-November 1.

Barr, who spent three years playing for Liberty Flames while on a hockey scholarship in the United States, certainly feels at home with Beeston.

The club includes three other Ulster players in Sophie McDowell, Jade Lamont - who have both been called up to the Ireland Under-21 development squad - and Katie McKee.

In addition, there is a familiar accent on the sidelines at Beeston as the club's head coach is Lisburn man Colin Clarke, who is also in charge of Nottingham-Trent University where the local girls are studying.

"All the girls are doing really well and it's great to see them getting recognition at international level," said Clarke.

McKee, who played for Pegasus last season, says she is loving her hockey in Nottingham, where she is studying fashion management.

The 19-year old said: "I am really enjoying it, and the standard at Beeston is very high but I am relishing the challenge.

"Like Pegasus, the quality at training and in matches is very good and everybody has been very welcoming."

Meanwhile, McKee's former club will be aiming to make it a perfect four victories from four games in the EY Irish Hockey League on Saturday when they face Railway Union.

Pegasus have scored 11 goals in their three games to date, with former Ireland captain Alex Speers topping the charts after getting two more goals in last weekend's 4-0 triumph over Ards.

In contrast, Ards have yet to score in their three matches and they face a tough test on Saturday as they prepare to take on Loreto, who won the Champions Trophy last season and have two wins from three so far.

Belfast Harlequins are looking for a much improved display when they host Muckross as they aim to bounce back from a disappointing 3-0 home defeat to their Cork namesakes.

In the Ulster Premier League, champions Lurgan are at home to Rainey, while newly-promoted Lisnagarvey, who have made a great start, host Banbridge.

Mossley entertain Queen's and Ballymena take on a Randalstown side still smarting from a heavy loss to Garvey last week.

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