The Irish women’s hockey team showcases their skills and proves to the world that they have what it takes to win.
Hockey has been popular in Ireland for over a century and its popularity is only growing. It’s a sport for every age, with the age of players ranging from children as young as four years old, all the way up to the men’s over 70s Irish international teams. There are currently 168 clubs and 280 schools in the Hockey Ireland Association.
Recent achievements of the girls in green
The first official Irish women’s international hockey match took place in 1896 between Ireland and England. Ireland played the English national women's team in Dublin where they came out victorious with a 2-0 win. Undoubtedly, women's hockey in Ireland has come a long way since then.
In 2018 Ireland brought home silver from the Women’s Hockey World Cup. This was a groundbreaking achievement that made history as they were the first Irish team to ever bring home a medal from the hockey world cup. They may have lost the final but that did hold back the crowd's celebrations on the team's return home. Thousands of people gathered on Dame Street in Dublin city to show their support for the girls in green and to celebrate the history that had just been created.
😂😂 Christmas songs at the #Irishhockey homecoming!! What a wonderful group of talented, charming & humble young women. An honour & a pleasure to MC the event for @LordMayorDublin - very well organised! pic.twitter.com/UcNppgJoKM— Des Cahill (@sportsdes) August 6, 2018
The history-making didn’t stop there, however. In 2019 Ireland qualified for the first time to compete in the women’s hockey section of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Despite the lashing rain and wind the green army came out victorious against Canada in a nail-biting, weekend-long qualifier series. Recognition for women’s sports has escalated as the Irish women’s team continues to create history. This has positively influenced young girls playing hockey in Ireland, they now have role models who they can look up to and aspire to be like. These women inspire the next generation of players. Young children see them play and dream of one day being like that.
The recent accomplishments of the National Women’s Hockey team have helped the sport develop much further in the past five years. This success led to new sponsorships and funding for Hockey Ireland. Going to the Tokyo Olympics, the women received sponsorship from major companies such as SoftCo and Saba.
Although many sports may not see this as significant, to hockey this was game-changing. International Irish hockey is not professional, for either the men’s or women’s national teams. This means that, as well as trying to train to become Olympic athletes, the players were also having to work or study full-time in order to be able to represent their country.
In 2017, just nine months before Ireland was set to play in the World Cup, both national hockey teams had no sponsors. This left the team to fully fund the trip themselves. Ireland is at a disadvantage to other major national teams such as the Dutch team or the Argentinian team, who are currently numbers one and two in international rankings because of funding. The top five female international hockey teams are all professional, this shows us how big of an influence resources can have on international sport performance. These professional teams are able to focus on their training so much more because there is no added pressure of funding.
With the help of recent sponsorships and media coverage, there are high hopes for where Irish international hockey may go next. The next big goals on the agenda are Olympic qualifiers and then from there hopefully the Paris 2024 Olympics. There is no doubt that Irish hockey is only going to keep growing, developing, and evolving into something even more extraordinary.