Friday 17 August 2018

WATCH: Players get in the Christmas spirit as Ireland's World Cup heroes are welcomed home in style

Supporters welcome the Irish Hockey Team at the Homecoming celebrations in Dame Street.
Photo: Tony Gavin 6/8/2018
Supporters welcome the Irish Hockey Team at the Homecoming celebrations in Dame Street. Photo: Tony Gavin 6/8/2018

Allison Bray and Sorcha O’Connor

Christmas came early for the Irish women’s hockey team who celebrated their historic silver medal finish at the Hockey World Cup on Sunday with a rousing Christmas song and dance that brought Dame Street to a standstill.

Although the Yuletide celebration is more than five months away, the team broke into an upbeat ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ as more than a thousand family, friends, fellow hockey players and proud well wishers gathered outside Dublin City hall yesterday for a raucous homecoming celebration.

The choice of song was inspired by the team’s excitement on the eve of the final, competing as underdogs at the Hockey World Cup which they said generated the same butterflies-in-the-stomach sensation as Christmas inspires in children.

They sang it before the historic showdown with the Netherlands at London’s Lee Valley Stadium. And even though they were defeated, 6-0, their David and Goliath struggle has made them the underdog heroes the world over.

Arriving at Dublin Airport to a hero’s welcome yesterday, team captain Katie Mullan said:  “It means the absolute world to me, we went over to this tournament, we wanted to make an impact - and boy did we make an impact. We were ranked 15th and to be standing here with a silver medal we exceeded all expectations,” she said.

“In terms of leading the girls, it was a great privilege to run down the tunnel first and wear the armband but we have an incredible number of leaders in this group and everyone leads the team in their own right,” she said.

“I‘m just the lucky one who gets to wear the armband. They’re a very easy group to captain, everyone listens, everyone cares so much. When you get a group of people with a common goal it is very easy to bring them together because they’re prepared to do whatever it takes.”

Players and manager Graham Shaw arrive at the Homecoming celebrations for the Irish Hockey team in Dame Street.
Photo: Tony Gavin 6/8/2018
Players and manager Graham Shaw arrive at the Homecoming celebrations for the Irish Hockey team in Dame Street. Photo: Tony Gavin 6/8/2018
The players arrive on stage at the Homecoming celebrations for the Irish Hockey team in Dame Street. Photo: Tony Gavin 6/8/2018
Supporters welcome the Irish Hockey Team at the Homecoming celebrations in Dame Street. Photo: Tony Gavin 6/8/2018
Fans Zoe Watterson, Killiney, Jessica Whelan, Dun Laoghaire, Ali Dunne, Blackrock and Aoife Grogan, Bray at the Homecoming celebrations for the Irish Hockey team in Dame Street. Photo: Tony Gavin 6/8/2018
Jubilant fans at the Homecoming celebrations for the Irish Hockey team in Dame Street. Photo: Tony Gavin 6/8/2018
Lord Mayor Nial Ring welcomes Graham Shaw, manager of the Irish Hockey team to City Hall at the Homecoming celebrations for the Irish Hockey team in Dame Street. Photo: Tony Gavin 6/8/2018
Minister for sport Shane Ross welcomes members of the Irish Hockey team to City Hall at the Homecoming celebrations for the Irish Hockey team in Dame Street. Photo: Tony Gavin 6/8/2018
Players enjoy the reception at the Homecoming celebrations for the Irish Hockey team in Dame Street. Photo: Tony Gavin 6/8/2018
Manager Graham Shaw and captain, Katie Mullan at the Homecoming celebrations for the Irish Hockey team in Dame Street. Photo: Tony Gavin 6/8/2018
Supporters at the Homecoming celebrations for the Irish Hockey team in Dame Street. Photo: Tony Gavin 6/8/2018
Megan Fraiser, Anna O’Flannagan, Nikki Evans and Chloe Watkins celebrate during the Homecoming celebrations for the Irish Hockey team in Dame Street. Photo: Tony Gavin 6/8/2018
Best goalkeeper in the Hockey World Cup Ayeisha McFerron with team mates Deirdre Duke and Yvonne Byrne at the Homecoming celebrations for the Irish Hockey team in Dame Street. Photo: Tony Gavin 6/8/2018
Lord Mayor Nial Ring welcomes members of the Irish Hockey team to City Hall at the Homecoming celebrations for the Irish Hockey team in Dame Street. Photo: Tony Gavin 6/8/2018
Fan Eileen Wegherhall from Greystones at the Homecoming celebrations for the Irish Hockey team in Dame Street. Photo: Tony Gavin 6/8/2018
Supporters throng the streets at the Homecoming celebrations for the Irish Hockey team in Dame Street. Photo: Tony Gavin 6/8/2018

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