Cratloe’s Naomi Carroll has been called up to the Irish women’s hockey squad as they aim to qualify for the World Cup.
Carroll is aiming to help Ireland reach the World Cup and keep the momentum that Irish hockey has generated after competing in the Olympic Games this summer.
Ireland memorably reached the final of the World Cup in 2018 and will be determined to qualify for the tournament again as they compete in an eight team competition which starts on Thursday, October 21.
The eight-team competition will be played in a knock-out format with only one side earning a place at next summer’s World Cup which will be played at venues in Spain and the Netherlands.
Ireland face a dangerous France outfit first as Sean Dancer’s side enter the tournament as top seeds. The Catholic Institute player is aware of the challenge her side will face when they commence their quest to compete at the World Cup.
“It is a huge tournament for us. Only one side goes through so we have to win our first game. That’s our focus at the moment. We know the France game will be really tough. We are going to need to put up a huge fight. With us competing at the Olympics we are trying to peak twice in the same year. We just have to go out there and try to produce a big display.”
Carroll described the Olympics as “the pinnacle of our sport” as she and her teammates represented their country on the biggest stage of all and battled against the best teams in the world.
“It was a huge honour to compete at the Olympic Games. Representing my parish and county was a huge goal of mine so I was glad to be able to do that. We were there with the best of the best athletes. It was a bit surreal to be there. We were disappointed not to progress to the quarter finals but having had time to reflect and look back it was a huge achievement to get there. It was the first time we were represented at the Olympic Games.”
Of the Tokyo panel, Shirley McCay, Hannah Matthews, Lizzie Colvin, Nicci Daly, Nikki Evans and Grace O’Flanagan are not in the squad. Carroll believes that the young talent coming through can help Sean Dancer’s side overcome the loss of some experienced players and ultimately help Ireland achieve their goal of World Cup qualification.
“The team is ever changing. In elite sport, players can come in and out of squads no matter what sport it is. It’s a very competitive squad.
“There are a few girls who have been in past squad and not in this one but each person is a leader in a different way. We have all put a lot of time in to getting ourselves ready and it’s exciting to see new players coming through.”
Carroll was named as a non-travelling reserve for the 2018 World Cup as she is keen to represent her country on this stage when the competition is held next year.
“For her to do that though, Ireland need to emerge from the eight team qualifier tournament.
“I missed out on the World Cup in 2018. The girls did amazingly well to get to the final. I’m hoping we can do well next week and try get to the World Cup again.
“It’s going to be tough for sure but hopefully we can do well.”
by Ivan Smyth