The Ireland women's Masters side doing our country proud overseas 2 years ago

The Ireland women's Masters side doing our country proud overseas

Everybody has been raving about the Irish women's hockey team's exploits at the World Cup, but did you know they aren't the only female hockey side representing our nation with distinction?

A famous win over India last week guaranteed the Irish women's hockey side a passage through to the quarter finals of this year's tournament in London - they eventually topped the group despite defeat to England. The team will now take on either India (again) or Italy on Thursday.

And, just when we thought things couldn't get any better for women's hockey in this country, the peformance at the Masters World Cup in Terrassa, Spain jumps off the page.

You see, women's hockey is being represented proudly with four different teams representing Ireland which include, +40's,+45's,+50's & +55's.

Indeed, all four sides have done our nation proud. Our +50 and +55 teams have followed suit with the team in London and booked their places in the quarter-finals.

The Over 50's side have gone three for three, gaining a maximum 9 points. They followed up an opening 2-0 win over Argentina with another 2-0 victory, this time against Chile. Before that, they came from behind to win 2-1 against USA and ensured they topped the group.

The over 55's, who took home silver in last year's European championships, started their campaign with a huge scalp as they defeated the number two ranked team, the Netherlands. They followed this up with a comprehensive 5-0 thrashing against Canada. In an eerily similar situation to the women's national side in London, they were beaten by England in their final group game, but qualification was already a given.

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The over 40's side have also qualified after defeating New Zealand yesterday. They will now play the Netherlands in the quarter-finals. The 45ers unfortunately did not qualify.  Their category is the strongest in the competition, but they will continue playing in order to finish in as high a position as possible, and it goes without saying that they have done their friends, family and our country proud.

SportsJOE caught up with 55's player Dee Mooney who was obviously delighted following their exploits in Spain.

"Last year we got silver in the Europeans, so we have had high hopes. We've been training and working hard all winter, we were pretty focused on getting out of the pool stages, so we are absolutely delighted with that."

Dee had been playing or coaching the sport since school. She came out of retirement seven years ago now to start playing for the Masters, which she has watched go from strength to strength.

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"Alison Pickett started the Masters 7 years ago, and I am part of the committee alongside a host of others. We have built this from one squad of 13 players, and now we have four squads with managers, physios, coaches, thats just in the last few years. We are doing extremely well, we got silver last years and our 50's took silver in Australia in 2016, it;s brilliant. Not bad for old women, you're never too old (laughs)."

The team are also extremely proud of our girls flying the flag in London, but they are not short of a few ex-senior internationals themselves, namely Carolyn 'Shanky' Burns, Orla Galvin and Maggie Hunter.

On the topic of the womens World cup, Dee said, "They are just phenomenal, we would know a lot of the girls from our clubs and Leinster. We had the link to the game and watched it in Egara. We tweeted them our  support and singing Ireland's call, and they tweeted us back, so there's been a lot of tweeting going on (laughs)."

The teams have had to play three games in consecutive days. With more games to come how are they coping with the tough conditions and searing heat.

"It is tough, the 55's are doing well, we have a few tweaks going on, but we have an excellent physio in Jean O'Neill who is patching us up and sorting us out after sessions. We mind ourselves; warm-downs, ice baths, hydration is key. It's tough on the body and its tiring, but it is so worth it."

These women put in a huge commitment in order to play the game, their personal lives are on hold, and their bodies are put through hell, all for the green jersey.

"It's massive for us to represent Ireland, obviously not all of us have done it at international level and to be able to do it in your fifties is pretty special."

It is a truly astonishing achievement from all of these teams. Going forward the over 50's team look set to play South Africa of USA in tomorrows quarter-final, whilst Dee's 55ers are back out on Thursday for a game against Australia or New Zealand.

It is all eyes on the prize now for the three remaining sides, as well as our heroes in London. It is great too see the amazing shape that women's hockey is currently in on these shores.

You can catch the sides remaining games by following the link: https://www.laliga4sports.es

Congratulations to all involved. The whole country is behind you.