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Irish girls get chance to test World venue



Seven-up: Ulster’s Katie Mullan

Seven-up: Ulster’s Katie Mullan

Seven-up: Ulster’s Katie Mullan

Ireland's women will have a sneak preview of the facilities they will encounter at this year's World Cup venue when they meet England in two internationals next month as part of the build-up to the showpiece.

The games will take place on June 7-8 at the Lee Valley Centre in London which will host the tournament which gets under way in late July, having also staged the hockey events at the 2012 Olympic Games.

The matches will be doubly significant because Ireland will also meet England in their final pool game at the World Cup, after playing the USA and India.

England were 4-1 winners at the European Championship in Amsterdam last August after beating Ireland 3-2 at World League 3 in Johannesburg.

Next month's double header should be a useful exercise as it will provide an opportunity for the Irish players to try out the pitch they will encounter later in the summer as well as the chance to test themselves against top class opposition.

The games are part of an intensive 15-match programme ahead of the World Cup, which includes 11 games in 23 days.

Among Ireland's opponents will be three other nations that will be travelling to London, Germany, Japan and Italy along with Scotland, Canada and Chile who failed to qualify.

Seven of the 15 games are being staged in Ireland although none will take place in the north.

The build-up hits off with three matches against Scotland in Glasgow from May 31-June 3 and then, after the England games, Ireland play Canada three times in Dublin from June 13-16.

Next is Dusseldorf for a triple header against Germany from June 21-24 before they host Japan twice in Cork on July 4-6.

Finally, the Green Army take on Italy and Chile in a Three Nations tournament at Grange Road, Dublin from July 12-14 before travelling to London ahead of their opening World Cup game with the USA a week later.

Seven Ulster players are in Shaw's 29-strong training panel, with team captain Katie Mullan joined by UCD team-mate Leah McGuire, Belfast Harlequins duo Zoe Wilson and Lizzie Colvin, German-based Megan Frazer, Shirley McCay (Pegasus) and goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran (University of Louisville).

Meanwhile, Ulster travel to Cork this weekend for the junior inter-provincials, with David Menaul's team hoping to retain the title they won at Stormont.

Belfast Telegraph