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Hockey heroes home

The players and coaches of the Irish women’s field hockey team, proudly displaying their silver medals, were given a heroes’ welcome in Dublin today after their extraordinary World Cup run in London. Inpho photo.


By Irish Echo Staff

They would have deserved a heroes’ welcome for just reaching the quarter final knockout stage.

The Irish women’s Hockey World Cup team reached the final, so the welcome home was all the greater in Dublin today.

The pairing of Ireland and the Netherlands in the final in London on Sunday was not a match for Croatia versus France in the soccer World Cup.

It was more akin to Iceland playing in the final against the French.

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The Irish players are a motley crew of part timers and amateurs.

They were ranked the second lowest team in the world Cup tournament. In world ranking they played their first group game as 16th in the world.

They played their way and their hearts out all the way to the final where, as would be expected, they could not overcome the power and prowess of the world’s number one ranked team and reigning world Cup champions, the Netherlands.

No matter.

Sure, the Dutch winning the World Cup 6-0 was the bigger story.

But the Irish playing for the cup in the final was the better story.

And that story spilled over from yesterday into today with the team flying into Dublin airport to the news that the Irish government would be contributing more to their sport in advance of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Government minister Shane Ross described the team’s achievement as a "Ronnie Delaney moment," a reference to the 1956 Olympic triumph by the legendary Irish middle distance runner.

Irish team captain Katie Mullan said that extra funding for a team that had scraped by over the years was unexpected, but could mean the ability to continue competing with the world’s top teams.

"Hopefully it's not just a quick fix, we need to be funded from here on forward if we want to qualify for world cups," she told the Irish Independent.

From the airport in was off to Dublin Castle to meet the city’s lord Mayor and after that a rally in central Dublin attended by thousands of cheering fans.