Impressive McCarthy loving life in green

AT A time when some of Ireland’s soccer internationals are seeing their commitment to the cause questioned, Sinead McCarthy continues to prove her allegiance to the green jersey in style.

The Englishwoman chose to jump ship from Poynton two years ago to hook up with Cork Harlequins in her mother’s native city, in the hope of chasing an international dream.

After a rocky start, she has become a mainstay for Ireland, despite having worn the English white at U18 level, under the direction of current Irish Hockey Association high performance director Dave Passmore.

“I’d worked with Dave; he was English U18 coach when I was at that age,” she told The Hook. “Funnily enough my debut was for England against Ireland in 2000 in Milton Keynes, an U18 Home Nations. We drew and shared the gold medal. It was very odd because I’d always been an Ireland supporter in soccer and rugby growing up. To play against them was odd.”

Her Irish dream didn’t materialise right away, however.

“I came over with that intention, it was the reason I came over to Ireland but it didn’t look like it was going to happen really. I spent the season with Cork Harlequins and came up for trials and wasn’t selected for the World Cup qualifiers in Chile and I thought I might not get another chance in many ways,” she said.

“I’m older than a lot of the other girls coming into the system and I thought, realistically, I missed the boat. But I got a phone call from Gene (Muller, Ireland coach) before the Australia and Germany series (last summer) and he said he’d throw me in the deep end against Australia. It wasn’t a bad way to start! An incredible experience, a day you’ll never forget.”

Invited to join Ireland’s central preparation programme — which controversially saw a number of Ulster and Munster girls uproot to Dublin for increased collective training — McCarthy was initially wary but has no regrets since moving to the capital last September.

“The setup we have now is so much better; you can’t even compare the (CPP and the regional system). It was certainly a shock to the system at the start. But it’s gone really well. I’d always thought Cork would be the place I would have lived in Ireland. I never considered living in Dublin, no connections and had no real interest living here for whatever reason. It’s a great city and it’s worked out brilliantly.”

Having settled in well at Hermes, her attention this week turns to toppling some of world hockey’s big names at the Champions Challenge in Dublin, beginning this weekend, where India, Spain and Azerbaijan are the sharks in Ireland’s pool.

“To be playing against the calibre of teams coming over, it’s been a long time coming. We’ve trained hard and now everything we have been building for is just around the corner and everyone is excited to see how far we’ve come.”

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