Naomi Carroll will make her long-awaited return to Catholic Institute colours as she hopes to play a leading role in the Rosbrien side’s maiden year in the EY Hockey League.
She has been back training since mid-August with her home club after four seasons — and an ACL injury — away as she hopes to reignite her international career.
The 111-time Irish international just missed out on the World Cup panel in 2018, playing in the final warm-up tournament prior to final selection. Soon after, she suffered her ACL playing ladies football for Cratloe and since then she has been documenting her knee reconstruction via weekly videos.
She now hopes to link up with Insta for their season opener tomorrow against UCD in the first round of the Irish Senior Cup, a potential first step to working her way into national coach Sean Dancer’s plans. The cup takes centre stage until mid-November once the Olympic qualifiers are done and dusted and a decent run in the competition can act as a strong base for the campaign.
Carroll left the club for top-tier hockey in 2015, playing for Hermes in Dublin initially and then Cork Harlequins before missing out on the entirety of last season.
During that time, Catholic Institute have risen to the top table, storming to the EYHL Division 2 title last spring. She will link up with fellow international Roisin Upton in due course. The sweeper currently is in camp with the Irish team along with Lena Tice and Ellen Curran, ruling them out of the cup games.
Institute will be coached this term by the returning Dave Passmore — the Irish U21 coach — with Ger O’Carroll as his assistant.
“We have no illusions as to the challenge we are faced with this season, our first in the EYHL,” Passmore said, with survival his main target in the league.
“But I have been tremendously impressed with the attitude and desire to develop that the players have shown. Losing forward Kym Daly to a long-term knee injury means we will struggle for squad depth and will need to keep everyone fit. We aim to make Rosbrien a tough place to come to and will need to be competitive in every game against the lower-placed teams to maintain our top-level status.”
Theirs is one of three first-round matches with Glenanne facing Old Alex, while holder Cork Harlequins go to Pembroke. For Quins, it has been a summer of flux. Ingrid Burns and Olivia Roycroft have returned to Bandon; Caoimhe Perdue and Saoirse Griffin switched to UCC, while they still await Cliodhna Sargent’s comeback from injury.