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Archive for August 6, 2018

Aug. 6, 2018 — A uniting force

It could come in a few months, but the open border between the six counties that make up Northern Ireland and the 26 that make up the Republic of Ireland may wind up being as guarded and closed as it was for most of the 20th Century.

That’s what Brexit, the vote that started the mechanisms for the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, means for 6.5 million people on the Emerald Isle.

Into this uncertain political and social climate, a unifying force has emerged in the last month. The force are the 18 women on the unified Ireland team that played to a silver medal at the FIH Women’s World Cup.

In field hockey, Ireland’s team features players from all points on the island, which is some doing given the fact that most young women in the Republic are guided towards the stick-and-ball sport called camogie.

Evidently, Hockey Ireland managed to find a few good players, even as most of the players had to pay more than $500 each for the privilege of playing in the World Cup.

Wait. More than just “good.” There was Rebecca Barry, who once made an ESPN SportsCenter Top 10 with an amazing flip goal over an opposing goalie’s head. There was Roisin Upton and Megan Frazer, who played with distinction for championship-level NCAA sides North Carolina and Maryland.

And then, there was Ayesha McFerren, the rising Louisville senior who was voted Goalkeeper of the Tournament for the World Cup.

If you have a chance to find Ireland’s games on-line, you will see a skilled team that seizes the moment and takes chances.

And evidently, the people who run sport on the island are taking notice; today, it was announced that Olympic sports will receive a funding boost of 1.5 million Euros, with field hockey receiving, according to Irish Minister for Sport Shane Ross, a “significant share.”

The end amount is still dwarfed by the £17 million budget for England’s hockey program.

But it’s a start.

 

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