GEMMA Frazer has recently been recalled to the Ireland hockey squad and is looking forward to a warm weather training camp in Chile at the beginning of the new year.
Frazer had been capped seven times by Ireland back in 2015 and 2016 before making herself unavailable so she could dedicate more time to completing her teaching studies.
Since then the former Omagh Academy pupil has continued to play for her club Belfast Harlequins and following Ireland’s success at this year’s World Cup in London admitted she was a little surprised to get recalled to the international set-up.
Now that she has, she is planning to make the most of it.
“I suppose it come a little out of the blue,” said Gemma, who is currently teaching at Fivemiletown College.
“To be truthful I never thought much about it, I just continued to play for my club. But obviously the coach had been watching games and keeping an eye on things and wanted me back in the squad.
“It’s an amazing opportunity, you always aspire to play at the highest level, it’s what I play hockey for.
“It was a bit of a shock but the coach obviously wants to expand the panel of players on the back of the success at the World Cup.
“2019 is going to be a busy year, an exciting year. I’ll be training in Dublin at the weekend and Belfast during the week, so it’s going to be a bit hectic.
“There’ll be a lot more fitness work, as they say, what you do in the dark will hopefully shine in the light!
“It’s good to be back in the squad and the good thing is I know most of the girls from the last time. It’s up to me to make an impression and try and push my way in there.”
The training game in Santiago takes place from January 12-16 as Ireland, who finished runners-up in London, set their sights on quaifying for the 2020 Olympics in Japan.
The squad of 26 includes a mixture of the old and new but doesn’t include veteran player Shirley McCay, who following the World Cup in August, said she would be taking an extended break from the Ireland set-up to consider her international future. That remains the case.
On Friday McCay, who has been capped 273 times by Ireland, was awarded the John Moore Memorial Award at the Mary Peter Trust Sport Inspires fund-raising lunch. Previous winners of the award presented for an oustatnding contribution to sport included Rory McElroy and Michael O’Neill.
Meanwhile McCay and 24-year-old Frazer go head to head on Boxing Day when Belfast Harlequins lock horns with Pegasus in the Denman Ulster Shield final.