Ireland's hockey heroes: ‘Shane Ross pledged his support, we’ll be holding him to it’
World Cup silver medallists Chloe Watkins and Anna O’Flanagan speak to Kathy Sheridan on the Irish Times Women’s Podcast
“If we want to compete with the best in the world, then we have to train like them and we have to act like them, so it would be great if we could get the financial backing that they get,” says Irish hockey international Anna O’Flanagan.
In case you have been living under a rock for the last week, O’Flanagan and her team-mates made history on Sunday when they became the first Irish team ever – male or female – to reach a World Cup final.
They lost to a formidable Dutch side in that match, but they were already winners by then having entered the competition ranked second last.
Speaking to Kathy Sheridan on the latest episode of the Women’s Podcast, O’Flanagan says the Irish players knew they could achieve more than was expected of them.
“We had a team saying where we would just say ‘f**k it’. We thought, we are going to go out and just show the world what we are about and enjoy every minute of it,” she says.
The players were greeted by a sea of green support each time they entered the stadium throughout the tournament and they were given a hero’s welcome in Dublin on Monday when they returned home with their silver medals.
At the homecoming, Minister for Sport Shane Ross took the opportunity to announce an additional €1.5 million in funding for Irish sport, of which hockey would enjoy a “significant” share.
O’Flanagan says there needs to be clarity on that figure, and soon.
“What does significant mean? I know that’s a question that people are asking and when is that money coming? We are completely and utterly amateur, so to get more clarity would be great,” she says.
Joining O’Flanagan on the podcast, her teammate Chloe Watkins, who received her 200th cap for Ireland at the World Cup final, says when Mr Ross made that announcement many of the team believed the full sum was destined for Irish hockey.
“If I’m being brutally honest, that is how I heard it at the time. It was just the way it came out with the €1.5 million. There were a few gasps, so we didn’t quite hear the full sentence, but you know he has pledged his support in the public eye, so we’ll be holding him to it. We’ll be waiting for it,” she says.
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