“We can’t just turn off that competitive streak”- Matthews

IT IS a reflection of the high standards that the Ireland Women’s Hockey team have set for themselves that they were bitterly disappointed at losing out 3-1 to Korea in the final of the FIH Series in Banbridge last weekend.

Despite having secured their primary goal of an Olympic qualifier berth earlier in the campaign, the Green Army had set their sights firmly on tournament gold.

Hannah Matthews Ireland

Loreto’s Hannah Matthews.

The squad won silver in last year’s World Cup under Head Coach Graham Shaw who has since departed from that post in order to take charge of the New Zealand Women’s team and was replaced by interim coach Gareth Grundie.

Loreto player Hannah Matthews was part of that campaign which lit up the country last summer and, like her international team mates, was targeting gold in Banbridge.

“We were really disappointed” she told The Echo. “It was our first tournament after the World cup and we really wanted to put our stamp on it. We can’t just turn off that competitive streak.

“We weren’t going to take our foot off the pedal after securing the Olympic qualifier and we wanted to win the tournament. We felt just so frustrated after losing the final.

“We had some big wins, but Korea were a step up and a lot more difficult.

“Obviously there was going to be a few changes after Graham [Shaw] left but Gareth [Grundie] was very clear on what he wanted us to do” she stressed.

Despite missing out on the podium top spot, Ireland can look forward to a shot at Olympic Games qualification in the autumn, but first up for the side will be the European Championships in August when they face Germany, England and Belarus.

“The Europeans are the toughest of the regionals, but we’ll be looking for a top four finish and it would be great to get a medal” said Matthews.

“Last year we showed [at the World Cup] that you had to be in it to win it. We’re a good tournament team and hopefully we can do well because it would be huge in terms of the team’s ranking.

“We play Germany, England and Belarus and I think the fact that we know the teams will help. We’ve played England and Germany and so we know their style of play” she said.

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