Ireland’s Roisin Upton described qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as “20 million times better” than she imagined.
Ireland women’s hockey team made history after overcoming Canada in a dramatic penalty shootout at Donnybrook in Dublin on Sunday to seal their place at the Olympics for the first time ever.
Upton netted the decisive penalty in sudden death to secure the victory in the two-legged qualifier after both games had ended scoreless.
She said: “I had tried to imagine what this moment might feel like.
“And, to be honest, it’s 20 million times better.
“There is nothing I can say to put into words what this means.
“This has been centuries in the making.
“It hasn’t just been this group of girls or this management team or the last 10 years.
“It’s been the likes of Eimear Cregan and Clio Sargent, former players and idols that I grew up looking up to,” Upton added.
“The list could go on - it’s for the whole hockey community of Ireland.
“It’s unbelievable and I just cannot wait for the Olympics now.”
Canada had been in control of the shootout on Sunday evening after moving into a 3-1 lead after scoring all three penalties.
However, Ireland keeper Ayeisha McFerran was in inspired form as she pulled off two crucial saves to bring the sides level.
Bethany Barr and Chloe Watkins then scored to set up a tense sudden death shootout,
Upton had missed her first penalty but made amends to score what proved to be the winner after Canada’s Amanda Woodcroft failed to get her shot away within eight seconds.
“I just tried to stay as focused as I could and not think about what it meant,” an elated Upton said.
“My first one didn’t go to plan too much as I tried to take it round her.
“But I tried to stay composed for the second one and luckily it went in.”