Duke, O’Flanagan and Watkins retire from international hockey

The vastly experienced trio won over 600 caps between them, as Ireland squad is named ahead of Nations Cup in Spain

With the announcement on Wednesday of the retirement from international hockey of Deirdre Duke, Anna O’Flanagan and Chloe Watkins, the national team has lost a trio of players with over 600 caps between them. All three played a major role in Ireland reaching the final of the 2018 World Cup, the squad named this week containing just three survivors from that tournament – captain Katie Mullan, Róisín Upton and Lena Neill (née Tice).

Watkins played for Ireland for 14 years, winning 242 caps along the way, and will be best remembered for scoring in the World Cup shootouts against India and Spain – and for the manner in which she coolly converted against Canada in the 2019 shoot-out that sent Ireland to their first ever Olympic Games.

With 89 goals in her 220 appearances, Anna O’Flanagan is Ireland’s all-time leading scorer having made her debut in the same game as Watkins, against Scotland in the summer of 2010. Duke arrived on the senior international scene three years later, going on to win 173 caps.

As well as being without that vastly experienced trio for next month’s Nations Cup in Spain, interim coach Facu Quiroga, who stepped into the role after Sean Dancer left the position in March, won’t have the services of another of the 2018 heroines, goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran. The Larne woman was injured while playing for her Dutch club Tilburg and is replaced in the squad by Old Alexandra’s Holly Micklem who joins Loreto’s Liz Murphy as Quiroga’s goalkeeping options.


Ireland have been drawn in a pool with Korea, Italy and Spain for the tournament and will warm up with games against the Italians, Belgium and India in Antwerp, starting on Friday, before finalising their preparations with friendlies against Chile and New Zealand at the end of the month in Spain. They open their Nation’s Cup campaign against the hosts on June 3rd, before taking on Italy and Korea over the next three days.

Ireland squad: E Murphy, H Micklem, S McAuley, R Upton, H McLoughlin, L Neill, E Curran, C Perdue, M Carey, S Hawkshaw, C Beggs, C Hamill, K McKee, N Carey, K Mullan (capt), N Carroll, S Torrans, S O’Brien. Non-travelling reserves: C Sherin, M Power.

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan

Mary Hannigan is a sports writer with The Irish Times