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I'll make most of surprise Ireland call, vows Zara Malseed


Step up: Zara Malseed admits she wasn’t expecting the call

Step up: Zara Malseed admits she wasn’t expecting the call

Step up: Zara Malseed admits she wasn’t expecting the call

Zara Malseed has been called up to Ireland's extended training squad which is preparing for the summer's Olympics in Tokyo.

It's a reward for the Ards striker's prolific scoring exploits since she returned home from a four-year stint with Edinburgh, where she won a host of trophies both at domestic level and in Europe.

The 21-year-old, who has been averaging more than a goal a game for her club, is relishing the opportunity to train with Sean Dancer's squad.

She is one of a 35-strong panel which will be training again this weekend in Dublin before a likely visit to South Africa for a warm-weather camp next month following the cancellation of a proposed trip to Malaysia due to concerns over the coronavirus.

Malseed admits she wasn't expecting to be given the opportunity to answer Ireland's call, and her inclusion will lead to increased competition for places in the forward line, which hasn't been firing on all cylinders of late.

She said: "I was very surprised to be asked to join the squad and, if I'm honest, I didn't see myself getting back into the Irish set-up in any capacity, so this is well beyond what I expected.

"Right now, for me, I'm just so happy to have the opportunity to be training with such an experienced squad to develop my game, so I just intend to keep taking any other opportunities that come up to do the same."

Malseed says she is loving her hockey at Ards, with whom she won an Ulster Premier League title when she was a student at Sullivan Upper before moving to Scotland to continue her studies.

She added: "Being home has been great and working with coaches that I really respect at Ards, with Tamara (Macleod) and then Gareth (Grundie), when he's free from his Ireland commitments, is really important for me.

"Tamara has a ridiculous amount of technical knowledge and that's been great to learn from, and improve my game.

"Ards has a good ethos and that was really important for me coming back to what is now a new team."

Tomorrow, Ards will be out to continue their unbeaten run in the second tier of the Irish Hockey League as they strive to get back into the top-flight, having been relegated last season, as they travel to Cork to face UCC.

In the top-flight, Pegasus are up against Railway Union at The Dub having recovered from Saturday's loss to Old Alex with a 2-1 win over Belfast Harlequins at the same venue on Wednesday.

Ireland World Cup star Lizzie Colvin put Quins in sight of their first victory in nine starts when she scored in the second half.

But Pegasus fought back to equalise through Niamh McIvor, who was playing her second game in the space of four hours after helping BRA reach the Belfast Telegraph Senior Cup final.

There were just three minutes left when Alex Speers grabbed the winner to leave Pegasus level on points with Loreto at the top of the table, although the Belfast side has played a game more.

Quins are also at home tomorrow, with third-placed Alex the visitors to Deramore.

Bethany Barr remains a doubt for Quins due to a troublesome back injury which has sidelined her for most of the last 10 weeks.

In the Ulster Premier League, Queen's have a tough test as they bid to extend their lead at the top, with Ballymoney - with Ireland captain Katie Mullan on board - travelling to The Dub.

Tomorrow's fixtures: EYIHL: Belfast Harlequins v Old Alex (2.30pm); Loreto v Pembroke; Muckross v Catholic Institute; Pegasus v Railway Union (4pm); UCD v Cork Harlequins. IHL 2 Pool A: Corinthian v NUIG; Lurgan v Trinity (2.30pm). Pool B: Greenfields v Monkstown; UCC v Ards (12pm). Ulster Premier: Tonight: Ulster Elks v Mossley (8pm). Tomorrow: Banbridge v Randalstown (2.30pm); Lisnagarvey v Dungannon (2.30pm); Queen's v Ballymoney (1pm). Senior One: Club KV v Ballymena (4pm).

Results: EYIHL: Pegasus 2 (N McIvor, A Speers) Belfast Harlequins 1 (L Colvin).

Men's Ulster Premier: Mossley 11 Ballynahinch 0; Newry 1 Bangor 0; Cookstown 6 South Antrim 0.

Belfast Telegraph