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Ireland adopt a twin approach with Serena set to join sister Bethany

 

Serena Barr
Serena Barr

By John Flack

Serena Barr could be a surprise inclusion in the Ireland women's squad for this weekend's Olympic qualifying double-header with Canada at Donnybrook in Dublin.

The Belfast Harlequins utility player looks set to join her twin sister Bethany in the 18-strong line-up and, if so, it would be the first time the pair will have played together in a competitive setting.

The Lurgan-born sisters, who are 24, made their debuts together earlier in the year when Ireland played a series against Chile in Santiago and then faced Spain and India in a friendly series in March.

Serena (right) was subsequently included in the extended Irish squad for two major tournaments but failed to make the cut for both the FIH World Hockey Series in Banbridge in June and the European Championship in Antwerp in August.

Bethany was named in both squads and has now firmly established herself in head coach Sean Dancer's plans and it seems that the twins will be reunited for the Canada games at the weekend.

The two women travelled to Germany for two uncapped internationals last week and it's understood that the 18 players who made that trip will be the same for the Olympic qualifiers.

If that's the case then, as expected, there will be no place for another of the Ulster contingent, Megan Frazer, who was unable to play in Germany as she continues to recover from a knee injury.

The other five local members of Ireland's World Cup medal-winning squad from last August will keep their places in the squad for the Tokyo quest, namely team captain Katie Mullan, goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran, Lizzie Colvin, Zoe Wilson and Shirley McCay.

Add in the Barr twins and the Ulster representation is likely to rise to seven as Ireland bid for a first ever appearance at an Olympic Games on the new pop-up pitch at Donnybrook on Saturday and Sunday.

A brand new surface will be laid on top of the existing artificial grass rugby pitch early this week and Ireland will have plenty of time to practice on the temporary turf before the qualifiers.

Meanwhile, at club level on Saturday, Ards kept their 100% record intact with an impressive 5-0 IHL second-tier win over UCC at Londonderry Park with goals from Ali Carson, Emma Reid, Zara Malseed (2) and Ellen Robinson but Lurgan lost 2-1 to Trinity College in Dublin.

In the Ulster Premier League, there were good wins for Ballymoney, Rainey, Ulster Elks and Raphoe but Queen's stay top.

RESULTS: EY Irish Hockey League 2: Pool A: NUIG 0 Corinthian 1; Trinity 2 Lurgan 1 (C Mitchell). Pool B: Ards 5 (A Carson, E Reid, Z Malseed 2, E Robinson) UCC 0; Monkstown 5 Greenfields 1. Ulster Premier League: Ballymoney 3 (G Adams, L Millar, N Parke) Lisnagarvey 1 (K McIlwaine); Rainey 1 Dungannon 0; Randalstown 0 Ulster Elks 4 (C Mitchell, L Craig, E Quinn 2); Raphoe 4 (K Love 2, L O'Donnell, V Wray) Mossley 0. Senior One: Priorians 2 (R McSparron, R Doherty) Armagh 3 (C McBride, N Babika, P Best). Senior Cup Pool B: Coleraine 3 (C Lyttle, K Caithness, C McNickle) Club KV 1 (J Doak); Omagh 1 (L McCollum) North Down 3 (R Murphy 2, H Brittain).

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