Ode to hockey and an anthem for Ireland


A chara, – Minister for Sport Shane Ross is to be commended for his decision to give extra funding to help the women’s hockey team prepare for the Tokyo Olympics (“Ross to clarify how much of promised €1.5m will go to hockey”, Home News, August 7th).

Their joyous displays in London deserve no less.

Women’s hockey is a minority sport played in a minority of countries. A niche strategy would identify it as an Olympic sport where we have a reasonable chance of success.

However, there are a few problem areas that could upset the Olympic dream. Unlike in the World Cup, the UK operates as a political entity in the Olympics.

Teams are chosen from the four “home” unions. As the game is relatively weak in Scotland and Wales, the UK selectors will invite many of the Northern Ireland players to join the British team. This offer would be attractive as there would be no agonising about identity, and there may well be financial incentives. They would be a huge loss to the Irish team.

It is not too early for Shane Ross to apply his mind to overcoming these problems. – Is mise,


Baile Atha Cliath 5.

Sir, – Liam Dunne bemoans the fact the Irish women’s hockey team could not observe the official Irish national anthem.

As a Northern Ireland born nationalist, living in this jurisdiction for the past 38 years, I find this attitude, frequently also expressed in regard to rugby, utterly frustrating and mindboggling.

The Irish hockey team(s), just like their rugby counterparts, represent all 32 counties and two jurisdictions. Therefore, there is no single “official national anthem”. Why on earth is this so difficult to comprehend in 2018? – Yours, etc,


Foxrock, Dublin 18.

Sir, – Liam Dunne’s (August 7th) remark about the hockey team not using the “official” national anthem got me thinking. Why not make Ireland’s Call the official anthem? It certainly unites. – Yours, etc,



The Netherlands.

Sir, – Whatever Liam Dunne might think about the Irish hockey ladies not singing the official Irish national anthem (Letters, August 7th), I have never seen it (Ireland’s Call) sung with such pride and enthusiasm by every member of the team. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 13.

Sir, – It seems every time a team representing the whole of the island of Ireland does well in sport, some people can’t resist having a moan that the team doesn’t sing the national anthem of Ireland.

We had it with the rugby team and now with the hockey team. Indeed Tom Cooper (Letters, August 8th) writes that “a compromised anthem today may lead to a compromised flag tomorrow”.

If, as is likely to be the wish of many in Ireland, one day our country will be united, is it not reasonable to assume that compromises will have to be made? Indeed, for such a thing to happen successfully with full integration of our unionist neighbours, I would say it will be a necessity.

Mr Cooper may not like it, but a compromised anthem and a compromised flag are very likely to be included in the price of a united Ireland, if it should ever happen.

I don’t think that is much of a price to pay.

We are after all just talking about a song on the one hand and some nicely coloured cotton on the other. We’ll live, hopefully in peace. – Yours, etc,



London, England.