Monday 20 August 2018

'Legends of Irish sport' - Hockey World Cup stars praised as thousands expected for homecoming

The Ireland team celebrate with their medals after the Women's Hockey World Cup Final match between Ireland and Netherlands at the Lee Valley Hockey Centre
The Ireland team celebrate with their medals after the Women's Hockey World Cup Final match between Ireland and Netherlands at the Lee Valley Hockey Centre

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has described Ireland's hockey World Cup finalists as "legends of Irish sport."

The women's squad were due to arrive home on Monday, where a civic reception hosted by the Lord Mayor of Dublin awaited them.

They produced an odds-defying display, reaching the final at London's Lee Valley Hockey Stadium despite being ranked 15th of 16 teams.

And even though final opponents Holland recorded a 6-0 victory, Ireland's silver medal achievement proved the tournament's highlight feat.

The Taoiseach tweeted: "Tough luck today but the #GreenArmy have inspired the country and made themselves legends of Irish sport. @irewomenhockey #HWC2018"

Ireland's previous best finish in the competition was 11th place in 1994, and although they met their match against a Dutch team that retained the world title, they emerged from the competition with huge credit.

"It was a tough, tough game," Ireland captain Kathryn Mullan told www.fih.ch.

"The turnaround time (between games) was tight, and we knew it was going to be a real physical effort from us and we weren't perhaps as fresh as we would have liked.

"But credit where credit is due, the Dutch are phenomenal.

"We may be disappointed when we look back at the game as to how they got in, but the better team on the day won. The effort my team-mates put in was brilliant.

"It's tough right now, but in a few weeks or a month we will look back with pride.

"We came in ranked 15th and we wanted to cause an upset. I'm wearing a silver medal, so we have definitely caused an upset."

And there was further recognition for the Ireland squad with Mullan's colleague Ayeisha McFerran being named the World Cup's best goalkeeper.

McFerran, 22, conceded just three goals during Ireland's run to the final, starring as her team claimed penalty shoot-out victories over quarter-final opponents India and semi-final rivals Spain.

Ireland will receive a heroes' welcome when they return home today.

They are expected to land at Dublin Airport at 12.30pm today.

Dublin Lord Mayor Nial Ring said a reception would be held for the team at City Hall today, where up to 5,000 people will have the chance to welcome the silver medallists home.

"We looked at Parliament Street originally with room for about 2,000 people, but we've gone with Dame Street which can hold up to 5,000 people.

"There will be a private reception for the team and their families first before the civic reception," the Lord Mayor said.

The team are expected in City Hall about 2pm, before the reception gets under way at 3pm.

Press Association

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