Emma Smyth became the second player from the Irish senior women’s panel to retire in the wake of their World League 3 campaign in Valencia last week, one which ended hopes of qualifying for the 2016 Olympics.
The 30-year-old confirmed her decision yesterday, following Kate Dillon, a Railway Union club mate who she was also in the same year in school as in Loreto Dalkey.
It concludes a six-year spell with the national team for Smyth, amassing 140 caps in which the midfielder became known for her mazy runs and a driving force in Ireland’s recent upsurge in form. She picked out her 100th appearance as a highlight, scoring in a victory over South Africa that saw Ireland reach the final of the Champions Challenge.
While she steps away, Smyth believes that the side has every chance to build from their recent push for Olympic qualification, something that was only denied by China in a shoot-out.
“We’ve experienced a lot of highs and lows throughout but I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to do it with,” she said.
“I’d like to say a big thank you to Gene Muller who gave me my first cap against England in 2009, which was such an honor and a privilege. I will never forget the great influence you had on my hockey career.
“Also a big thank you to Darren, Graham, Arlene and all the staff over the last few years. You are all truly fantastic individuals that work incredibly well as a team.
“I strongly believe this team will be successful in years to come and I know one day I’ll be cheering them on in the Olympics.”
In addition to the two player departures, Ireland will also face into the future with a new coach with Darren Smith replaced by Graham Shaw in the wake of that tournament in Spain. They are next in action in the European Championships’ second tier later this month.