The Irish women’s hockey team have just lost the World Cup final against the Netherlands at London’s Lee Valley Hockey centre with a score of 0-6. Unfortunately, the difference in the level of execution today was not in our favour and the seven-time winners and defending champions held their side today to defeat Ireland.
Although it was unfortunate that they didn’t manage to cross the finish line as the 2018 World Cup champions, this Green Army have defied all odds and expectations by making it to the final. They entered the World Cup as the second lowest ranked team (16th), playing against world-class teams throughout the tournament. Just like president Michael D. Higgins said, they have demonstrated what team spirit, skill and dedication can accomplish. This is the first time that Ireland has reached the hockey World Cup Final and although they lost today, this is only the beginning for the girls in green.
In a final, in any sport at any level, anything can happen on the day. The Dutch are known to have very high standards and today was a testimony to this. The outcome today is disappointing, but Ireland’s hockey coach Graham Shaw has given the team a sense of belief, not just for today, but for the future of the sport. This group of players have been together for over two years. They have performed incredibly over the last two weeks, knocking seconds off of their professional sprint times.
Ireland certainly made their mark from the very start of the World Cup by beating USA 3-1, who are renowned as one of the best teams in the game and ranked 7th in the world. Although they lost to England, they had already secured their place in the quarterfinals against India, which they won in a penalty shootout.
Ireland celebrates their penalty shoot-out victory against Spain. Photo credit: The Irish Times, Photograph: Sandra Mailer/Inpho
When it came down to sudden death in the semi-final penalty shootout against Spain, the whole nation held their breath. Gillian Pinder restored our faith by scoring the winning goal, resulting in their historic victory – the entire nation celebrated. The excitement over the last two weeks has been phenomenal, with the nation coming together once again to support this team.
— Irish Hockey (@irishhockey) August 5, 2018
Although this sport may not be financially rewarding, this group of women, their coaches and extended squad members personify the true meaning of sports heroes. After they failed to qualify at the Rio Olympics in 2016, they set their goal high and reached it, much to the shock and delight of the entire country. We couldn’t be more proud to be Irish.
It’s no revelation that women’s sport takes the backseat in comparison to men’s sport. What this World Cup has proved to us, is that we as the viewers play a critical part in showcasing women’s sports. New fans people have supported this team over the last week and I can only hope that has given the people of Ireland a new outlook and respect for women’s sports. Needless to say, the whole nation is now firmly behind the Green Army and will be in the future.
Also, congratulations to the Irish women Over 50’s hockey team who won the Masters World Cup in Spain yesterday, beating Australia 1-0.
Photo credit: @irishhockey