IN the summer of 2018, unaware to the rest of the world, the island of Ireland had its own pandemic, when the whole of Ireland contracted a month-long case of Hockey fever. The nation’s month-long love affair with our new favourite national sport, was given the ultimate seal of approval that the Ireland can award something or someone, a spot in a Reeling in the Years episode.
The team consisting of Janesboro native, Roisin Upton, proved however that the 2018 surge to the World Cup Final, wasn’t just a once off, a high to come down from and fail never to recapture, this team of 19 however would have more than just their combined 285 minutes of fame.
Upton’s penalty against Canada in November of 2019, proved decisive to send Ireland to their first ever Olympic games, after 30 years of trying in 6 different qualifiers. The team’s rapid strides in bringing the national game forward were plain to see.
For her front and centre involvement in this development, Upton was honoured at Limerick City and Country council, and by Mayor Daniel Butler, for what Mayor Butler described as impressive leadership off the pitch, as well as on it.
Afterwards, I caught up with Roisin Upton, to ask about the National team’s progress in the last few years.
“It’s been surreal yeah I think it probably won’t be until I retire and really settle and take some time that we realise what we’ve accomplished and how we put hockey on the map not only in Ireland but around the world and it’s something that’s been really important to this group, so it’s been special. We had the World Cup and now the Olympics and you know we’ve had a couple of players retire so we want to be consistent because there’s a World Cup next summer, so you know qualification starts in 4 weeks in Italy, so we haven’t had too much time to celebrate the Olympics.”
Given that Upton in her time away from the National team, is a geography teacher and plays club level, a long way from the glitz and glamour of the Olympics, how does she find the balancing of the extreme highs with the standard every day.
“I suppose. You know, the Olympics is the pinnacle, it is the high, but that’s also only two or three weeks of the entire journey. Over the four year journey. You know, I’m a teacher, I’m playing for girls and in Catholic Institute every week. And I absolutely love it. It’s not as if I’m a professional sports person, like some of the athletes at the Olympics. So my life wouldn’t have changed too much having gone to the games. So it’s great to be back and it’s great to be in institute this year”