Ayeisha McFerran makes Ireland return for Chile trip

Ayeisha McFerran will make her return to the Ireland squad for the first time since her World Cup heroics in August as one of eight Ulster players in the panel for next month's trip to Chile.

Thursday, 20th December 2018, 6:40 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 10:31 am
2018 Vitality Hockey Women's World Cup Final, Lee Valley Stadium, London 5/8/2018 Ireland vs The Netherlands Ireland's Ayeisha McFerran celebrates being named the Best Goalkeeper of the tournament Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

The Larne woman was named goalkeeper of the tournament after helping Ireland reach the final in London with a series of stunning performances, having been instrumental in penalty shootout wins over India in the quarter-finals and Spain in the last four.

The 23-year-old is joined on the journey to South America by three of the other Ulster players who won silver medals at the World Cup, with team captain Katie Mullan, Zoe Wilson and Megan Frazer also named in the panel.

Shirley McCay, who is still mulling over her international future, and Lizzie Colvin, who is unavailable, miss out on the trip when Ireland will play four internationals against the world number 16 nation.

Four other Ulster players have been named in head coach Graham Shaw’s squad with the Barr twins, Bethany and Serena, who are set to win their first caps, joined by Gemma Frazer and Ruth Maguire, who have made three and seven previous appearances respectively, in the line-up.

McFerran says she is happy to be back on board after she recently made history by being named in the all-American colleges selection for a record fourth time in a row in this her final year at the University of Louisville.

“I’m excited to be heading to Chile with the girls, there’s a lot of new and different faces on the squad so it will be good to see how they get on,” she said.

McFerran and the rest of the 19-strong World Cup silver medal winning squad, along with coach Graham Shaw and manager Arlene Boyles, are featured in a BBC NI documentary to be shown over Christmas, entitled ‘Live like Legends’,

It’s a must-watch 30 minute programme, expertly produced by Nigel Ringland, to be broadcast on BBC 2 at 7pm on Thursday December 27, as all the players recall their incredible journey in London in their own words, with a tear or two along the way.

The documentary, which has highlights from all of Ireland’s games, includes previously unseen fly-on-the wall footage and will tug at the heart-strings as Frazer emotionally reveals her pain at missing the final due to injury.

Speaking of pain of a more serious variety, McFerran’s deputy Grace O’Flanagan explains how she battled cancer to resume her hockey career, defying all the odds, just like the national team did when they finished runners up at the showpiece.

Grace describes the scenario as beyond her wildest dreams, in an unstated metaphor for Ireland’s wonderful journey, after coming off the bench to replace McFerran in the latter stages of the final against the Netherlands.

The 30-minute programme is fabulous from start to finish - just like those 15 unforgettable days in London.

McFerran will be among the spectators on Boxing Day at Lisnagarvey when her former Pegasus team mates tackle Belfast Harlequins in the Denman Ulster Shield final, followed by the men’s Kirk Cup decider between Banbridge and Annadale.