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Ireland's Naomi Carroll. Photo by Gerrit van Keulen/Sportsfile

Carroll named in Irish squad for Olympic qualifiers

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Cratloe’s Naomi Carroll has been named in the Irish women’s hockey side that will aim to secure qualification for the Olympic Games.
Ireland will compete in an eight-team tournament which will take place between January 13th and 21st in Valencia, Spain.
This is the final opportunity for nations to reach the Summer Olympic Hockey Tournament in Paris. Carroll, who has been capped 140 times by her country will be aiming to lead from the front as Ireland go in search of a ticket to Paris.
Irish hockey stars Chloe Watkins and Beth Harper have been recalled to the national squad for next month’s Olympic qualifiers in Spain. This means that Ireland can call upon nine players who were part of the national side that secured qualification for the Tokyo Olympics.
Sean Dancer’s side secured their place at this tournament after a fifth placed finish at the EuroHockey Championships. They lost out to England and Germany in the group stage of the Championships as despite victory over Scotland, Ireland were unable to reach the semi finals.
In the end, Carroll found the net in a 1-1 draw with Italy during Ireland’s final game of the tournament as Sean Dancer’s side matched their best ever finish at the tournament and sealed their spot in Valencia.
Ireland (World Ranked #13) are drawn in Pool A alongside Belgium (#4) whom they play on January 13 at 5.30pm, Ukraine (#28) whom they play on January 15 at 12 noon and Korea (#12) whom they will play on January 16 at 6:15 p.m.
In Pool B hosts Spain (World Ranked #8) are in with Great Britain* (*England are World Ranked #7), Canada (#16), and Malaysia (#18).
There are only 3 qualification places available from this tournament so it is essential Ireland finish second at least in the pool and preferably win their semi-final to ensure a spot in Paris next summer. A place could still be secured by the losing semi-finalists were they to win the 3rd place play-off.

Ireland squad:
Goalkeepers: Elizabeth Murphy, Ayeisha McFerran
Defenders: Elena Neill, Roisin Upton (vice-captain), Sarah McAuley, Ellen Curran,
Bethany Harper, Hannah McLoughlin
Midfielders: Katie McKee, Sarah Hawkshaw, Chloe Watkins, Charlotte Beggs, Michelle Carey, Sarah Torrans (midfielder/striker)
Strikers: Kathryn Mullan (captain), Deirdre Duke, Naomi Carroll, Niamh Carey.

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