Green Army’s Olympic Journey Report
It was all go on Saturday, as I raced through The Burren to find a location with WiFi or any sort of internet coverage so I could watch Ireland take on Great Britain in their final pool game. Following India’s 4-3 win over South Africa earlier in the day, it was a must-win match for Ireland if they wanted to secure their spot in the Quarter Finals. Thankfully, just minutes into the fixture. We pulled up at The Burren Perfumery and I got the laptop out and tuned in. The rest of the girls sat around me enjoying their lunch!!
The first quarter was a tight affair with Ireland courageously running down three GB penalty corners to keep the Green Army in the mix. Early into the second quarter GB took the lead through a rebound from Susannah Townsend. Ireland had some promising phases of attack with Nicci Daly pulling a brilliant save from Maddie Hinch. GB continued to push hard but Ireland kept the reigning Olympic Champions at 01 going into half time.
In the second half, GB continued to attack and finally, Hannah Martin got on the end of a Ellie Rayer’s cross to extend GB’s lead to 0-2. A big ask now for Ireland to score 3 in the final quarter to have any chance at progressing through. Opportunities at both ends came and with five minutes to go, Ireland removed Ayeisha McFerran to play with 11 outfielders, searching for those goals. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be and it was the end of historic campaign for Sean Dancer’s Green Army.
It has been a week of highs and lows, with a strong start and a debut victory against South Africa just ten days ago. This was followed by 4-0 defeats to the hands of The Netherlands and Germany, world number one and three respectively. Their fourth pool game on Friday was a crucial match where points were needed against India, but it wasn’t to be and Ireland were edged out 1-0.
The results are bound to hurt, it hurts as a fan, but these women have changed Irish history forever. This team have overcome adversity time and time again over the last number of years, they gave us an unprecedented World Cup Silver medal and brought the nation on an incredible journey with them back in 2018. And now, they are the first ever Irish women’s sports team to represent at the Olympics and they did it with gusto. When the dust settles and they have time to heal, each of these resilient and spirited athletes will look back and be incredibly proud of what they have achieved, not just for hockey but for Irish women’s sport. Chatting to people outside of the Irish hockey community, there is nothing but admiration for this team and for what they have achieved. As a hockey player and a fan, I could not be prouder to be part of the hockey family and to have shared this journey with them along the way. The journey is still very much just beginning for the Green Army, they will learn from this experience and they will pick themselves up once again and no doubt we will be hearing a lot more about them later this year and moving towards Paris 2024.