Former Mount Anville and Pembroke player Sinead Loughran will play through the pain barrier once more this weekend as she bids to end her university hockey career with an NCAA title.
Despite breaking a bone in her hand in the last few weeks, she helped her University of North Carolina Tar Heels side to a pair of wins last weekend to see them through to the final four of the marquee competition in the US.
Speaking afterwards to the Daily Tar Heel, she said that nothing was going to stop her lining out in the biggest games of her career.
“I can get surgery after the season. It’s my senior year — I’m not giving up because of this.”
On November 7, the Dubliner collided with a Wake Forest player and fell awkwardly on her right hand but got up and played out the first half. But, at the interval, she looked down and ‘wondered where her fourth knuckle went’.
It was latter confirmed that she cracked her fourth metacarpal bone. She was expected to sit out the rest of the competition with the injury but, nine days later, she was back in action in the NCAA last 16 tie against the Delaware Fighting Blue Hens.
“Well, this is my senior year,” she said. “I don’t give a crap. Throw me in a cast, do something, tie my hand to the stick. I want to play.”
They won that tie 6-2 and a day later, Wake Forest were again the opposition in the quarter-finals and Loughran played 45 minutes in a 5-2 success.
Coach Karen Shelton said it was typical of her character “You can’t hold a competitor off the field with a little thing like a broken bone in your hand.”
In order to be able to play, Loughran wore an orthoplast, a hard shell molded to her hand and held together with “a lot of tape”. Gripping her stick proved fairly difficult, Loughran said. But orthopedists assured her that the routine bumps and nudges of field hockey wouldn’t inflict any more damage on her broken bone.
“Even if it falls and displaces, I don’t care,” she said. “I can get surgery after the season. It’s my senior year — I’m not giving up because of this.
“For me and for all the seniors, and even the returning players, the Final Four is the epitome of your career,” Loughran said. “You want to make it there. It’s the icing on the cake.
“I’m just so proud of my team and so proud to be a part of this program that we’ve managed to reach that,” she said. “But it’s not over yet.”
The importance of Loughran was subsequently augmented by her nomination in the 2013 Longstreth NFHCA Division 1 South Region second team for the year,She will line out against Limerick native Roisin Upton in the semi-final of the competition on Friday against the University of Connecticut Huskies who they beat 2-1 back in October.
Upton was named in the Mideast first team of the season in the honours list for her region in the list named on Tuesday. In the final, they will meet either the University of the Maryland Terrapins or Duke University on Sunday if they progress.
Elsewhere, five more players were named in the top team for their respective performances throughout the season. Emma Russell (Syracuse) joined Upton on the Mideast team while Natalie Barr (Liberty Flames), Rebecca Barry and Amy Cooke (Richmond Spiders) were included on the South list.
Former Railway Union player Lisa McCarthy, meanwhile was in the West team of the year following her performances for Chicago’s NorthWestern University.