Friday 15 November 2019

Hawkshaw aiming to book Tokyo ticket against Canada

Sarah Hawkshaw. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Sarah Hawkshaw. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Stephen Findlater

For Sarah Hawkshaw, it was some brutal honesty from her Metro St Brigid's club coach Charlie Martin that sent her down the potential Olympic hockey path.

She is one of the fresher faces in Sean Dancer's Ireland squad - one of four changes to last year's World Cup panel - to take on Canada tomorrow (7pm) and Sunday (7.10pm) in the qualifiers at Energia Park, with a ticket to Tokyo on the line.

Tomorrow's game marks her one-year anniversary since the 23-year-old was first called into Graham Shaw's training panel.

"A dream come true. Well almost, one more step," she said of being involved. "It all happened very quickly. I was watching the World Cup final from the States, crying watching it - I didn't know many of the girls at all, never played with many of them. Then to be invited into the programme earlier this year was amazing."

That was at the tail-end of her degree at the University of Massachusetts, combining studies with a sports scholarship.

Hockey, though, was just one among an array of sporting options open to her in her late teens before Martin provided the sage advice that sticks with her.

Hailing from a talented sporting family, at the time she was helping Dublin's footballers to U-16 and minor All-Irelands as well as running a mean 800m.

"Are you ever going to make the Olympics in running?" he asked one day. "Probably not."

"Will you make it in hockey?" "Yeah, I'd like to."

"That's it, decision made and Charlie never coached me again. He was brilliant, he was just wise; he knew and I knew but I needed someone to tell me."

It has paid dividends for the razor-sharp forward. Her inclusion - along with other newcomers, twins Bethany and Serena Barr - is a big thumbs-up for players taking the US route after school.

While concerns remain over the standard of hockey on offer, Hawkshaw says college scholarships make the transition to high-performance sport less of a jump than from Irish club level.

Were it not for Dave Passmore's foresight to introduce an Irish U-23 category for the likes of the Barrs and Hawkshaw, the gap also could have been wider.

And it allowed them all to be seen at a Four Nations tournament in Antwerp last summer.

Irish Independent

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