Irish heroines tipped to add another 'miracle'
The Irish men's world-class goalkeeper, David Harte, reckons Graham Shaw's giant-killing women's team has a fantastic chance of going all the way today and reaching the World Cup final.
The Corkman, voted international hockey's best men's goalkeeper in both 2016 and 2017, told the Irish Independent: "Why not? They have a 50:50 chance and absolutely nothing to lose again.
"What this team has done so far, being ranked 16th and reaching the top four in the world, is phenomenal.
"It is nothing short of a miracle."
Harte added ahead of Ireland's historic World Cup semi-final against Spain today (2.0), which will be shown live on RTE2.
"In tournaments like this, and especially semi-finals, it is not about rankings, as Ireland have already shown. These games are there to be grabbed and won.
"Ireland are a known quantity now and will be very closely studied.
"But they'll also have taken so much positivity and encouragement from their victories so far and this incredible position they have made for themselves.
"Another advantage is having that shootout monkey off their backs. They were cursed not to qualify for Rio when they had a 'sudden death' penalty off the post.
"To win one, on such a massive world stage - and winning 3-1 like that, with such ease - they will take a lot of confidence from that and will bring that into this game if it does go all the way to a shootout again."
While Ireland's women have torn up the form-book in London, Harte said their success reflects just how close they'd come in recent years and also a trend of breakthroughs for Irish hockey.
The Irish senior men won European bronze in 2015 and made it to Rio in 2016, their first Olympic qualification in 108 years.
Their success has created a headache for RTÉ, who have already a congested schedule. If Ireland win their clash with Spain, tomorrow's final will be played on RTÉ2 at 4.30. However if they lose, their bronze medal match (2.0) will be on RTÉ News Now - kicking Dublin's 'Super 8s' clash with Roscommon onto RTÉ's player.
Ireland v Spain,
Live, RTE2, 2.0