Ireland’s Lizzie Holden retires from international hockey

The Armagh Hockey Club player was part of the team that reached the World Cup final

Ireland’s Lizzie Holden has retired from international hockey. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Ireland’s Lizzie Holden has retired from international hockey. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

 

Irish World Cup finalist Lizzie Holden (née Colvin) has confirmed her retirement from international hockey following a history-making 13-year career.

The Armagh Hockey Club World Cup silver medalist, and Tokyo Olympian appeared 206 times for Ireland, finishing her career at last summer’s Olympic Games in Japan, where the team qualified for the first time in its history.

The 31-year-old, who also went to Dublin and played with Loreto before heading north to Belfast Harlequins, steps away having made her debut as a teenager. She leaves the international stage just as the current Irish women’s squad are in Italy preparing for their World Cup qualifier which starts on Thursday.

“I always felt the Olympics was going to be my last dance,” she said of her decision to step back. “I had gone back and forth in my head for a long time but I think it is the right time for me to step away. We were so intense as a team for so long and we would spend weeks together on tour. I’m just sad that I don’t get to see my friends every day now.”

College brought Holden to Dublin and Trinity where she studied law and that is when she linked up with a Loreto side going through a golden era. She was part of the Ireland team that came so close to qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Rio, a final match against China and the width of the post keeping Ireland away from the Games for four more years.

“I think we showed that hunger and desire in Valencia [at the 2016 Olympic qualifiers] and ultimately we played above our ranking and topped the pool,” she says. “We then had to deal with the heartbreak of the China game. I don’t think I’ve ever watched it back!”

Having spent a decade to reach the elite stage, she says the pressure was off when Ireland arrived at the London World Cup in 2018 and defied all expectations. The team made it to the final before losing to the Dutch.

Her Tokyo Olympic reflections are a mixed bag, a once in a lifetime experience but also tinged with frustration as Ireland missed out on the quarter-final places.

“It was a life-long dream for me and I will never forget walking down that street in the Olympic village with all the flags and up to the Olympic rings,” she says.

“The first night when we played against South Africa, it was hard that there weren’t any fans there but at the same time it was just so emotional for us to say that we have finally arrived after so many years of hard work.

“There is frustration that we didn’t progress further but I definitely believe that there’s a hunger and desire in the team to push as far as they can go. I think we’re in safe hands. So yeah, I’m just really sad it’s over for me and I don’t get to do it again.”

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