Friday 24 May 2019

Niamh in awe of Irish heroes

Paul Byrne

The success of Irish rowers Gary and Paul O'Donovan at the Rio Olympics in 2016 prompted a huge surge of interest in the sport as the brothers won a silver medal in the lightweight double skulls.

And Malahide Fingal hockey captain Niamh O'Doherty is hopeful that Ireland ladies' sensational run to the World Cup Final in London can have a similar impact on the game in north County Dublin.

O'Doherty, who plays in goal for Leinster League club Malahide Fingal, is thrilled that the game she loves has been given so much attention in recent weeks due to Ireland's run to the final where they finally ran out of steam against the Netherlands.

'It's been absolutely brilliant to watch the girls in action over in London and the attention they have garnered from the national press has been a joy to see,' she said.

'We're not really given too much attention in general and I always knew it would take something like this to get people interested and passionate about the game.

'The girls have done a fantastic job to reach the final, all the more so given the fact that they are amateurs and self-funded. Unfortunately, there are very few grants or funding opportunities available from the government to help improve the sport, but hopefully that will change after this tournament.

'You would have to think that there are a number of young boys and girls out there who have been glued to the TV sets watching the Irish girls' run to the final and they will want to go out and try out the game for themselves.

'We have the largest amount of girls playing with a team in the area, but we are always looking to get more people in and this feat from Ireland will help that happen.

'We have about 150 juniors and two senior ladies teams here in Malahide, but there are other clubs who are struggling for numbers and hopefully this will see a surge of new participants taking up the game.

'With extra numbers and extra funding it gives us a chance to develop the game further at club level and improve our players, which will ultimately result in an even stronger national team.

'These girls who have reached the final have done all the hard work themselves and when you see them beating teams like India and Spain, who have far more resources than us, it shows the potential we have in this country.

'I'm hopeful that this is the start of something big and will result in bigger numbers playing the game. As a goalkeeper myself I've been watching on in awe at the performances of Ayeisha McFerran. She was absolutely brilliant in both shootouts and she was in my eyes the goalkeeper of the tournament.

'Hopefully we can grow the game now in Fingal and produce some of the next batch of internationals who themselves may one day make a run to a World Cup Final.'

Fingal Independent