Multi-talented Carroll cracking all the codes

The commitment required by dual stars in GAA are well documented but how many of them are also representing their country in another sport too?

That’s exactly what Naomi Carroll was juggling last summer when she balanced her camogie and football commitments for Clare with a fledgling Irish international hockey career.

The 20-year-old lines out for Darren Smith’s Ireland at the TriFinance EuroHockey Nations Championships in Boom, Belgium this weekend — her first major international tournament — and she couldn’t be happier.

“I’ve been really fortunate that the Clare camogie coaches have allowed me to miss some training when there are Irish camps in Dublin, and at the same time, Darren [Smith] has great respect for our national sport which has allowed me line out for Clare in the championship, although I didn’t play football for the county this year as I just didn’t have enough time,” she said.

“The games definitely complement each other in terms of skills. I’m left-handed so I don’t have to switch hands. Most hockey people say it’s obvious I play camogie when it comes to 3D skills too.”

Citing fellow crossover stars Eimear Cregan and Darren Sweetnam as influences, Carroll’s background in both sports — as well as soccer, in which she and current Irish hockey team-mate Deirdre Duke both played underage for Ireland — is fascinating.

Having attended St Patrick’s Comprehensive in Shannon, she took up hockey at 14 to add to her winter diet of soccer. Inside two years she was on the Irish U16 team and has gone on to play for her country at every level, scoring twice against Scotland on her second cap last summer.

As her native Cratloe are without a camogie team, Carroll hurled with the boys as a teenager, winning county medals at U14 and U16 level before the end of the parish rule enabled her to transfer to Na Piarsaigh in Limerick.

She went on to make Limerick’s minor team and memorably scored 3-5 in the 2009 All-Ireland B final against Waterford, including two injury-time goals to win the game by a point. She’s since moved back to play with Sixmilebridge.

Known across all her codes in Ireland for her diminutive stature, eye for goal and distinctive white headband, Carroll hopes to introduce herself to European hockey’s best over the coming eight days, starting with Holland today (5pm Irish time).

“I never expected to get a chance to be a senior international so soon. To be playing in my first major tournament now is just class.

“Our first goal is to stay in the division but we’re aiming for the semi-finals too. I just hope I play well and we can reach the last four.”

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