Ireland’s World Cup silver stars returned home to a hero’s welcome in Dublin yesterday - with celebrations including a boost on two fronts.
Defeat on Sunday to defending World champions the Netherlands failed to stop the smiles as Ireland women made hockey history by reaching the showpiece final in England.
As a result, a record rise up the rankings to 10th is expected - with Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross also confirming a significant investment in hockey from a £1.34m funding allocation to Sport Ireland towards Olympic Games preparations.
“It’s hard to put into words the sacrifices made by the girls, but we can agree it’s all been worthwhile, especially when we see the crowds here today,” said the Coleraine-born team captain Katie Mullan during the Dublin event that attracted hundreds of supporters.
The players were thanked by head coach Graham Shaw, who said they had no idea how much support had grown.
“Yesterday was a testament to the character of the team and the people that they are, to show the bottle that they did,” said Shaw. “We had no idea how many people were watching at home.
“We’re very grateful to all the supporters and non-hockey supporters that turned out for us.”
The team finished with a group sing-song of their unofficial anthem, All I Want For Christmas Is You.