Emma Gray has become the third player from the Irish senior women’s team to formally retire from the international side in the wake of narrowly missing out on the Olympic Games, following Emma Smyth and Kate Dillon.
The goalkeeper has been an almost ever-present for the past seven years since making her debut in 2008 alongside Megan Frazer in the Celtic Cup in France. She went on to earn 118 caps, the most of any woman in Irish hockey history.
Reflecting on here career, Gray said: “I would like to thank Gene Muller and his management team, in particular, Rudi Wortmann, for giving me my first opportunity to play for Ireland.
“I must also thank Darren Smith and his team including Graham Shaw, Arlene Boyles, Nigel Henderson and all the support staff who have played such important roles behind the scenes.
“It’s also important to recognise the support of the Irish Sports Council and Sport Northern Ireland, without whom none of this would have been possible.”
Looking back at her final tournament, World League 3 in Valencia, she said the “heartbreak” will fade but “the five weeks the squad spent together in May/June, in preparation for and during the WL3 were special. I will never forget the team spirit, camaraderie and work ethic within the group.
“To Graham, Arlene, Megan, all the squad and management I wish you the very best for the future. It has been a privilege to play with all of you and there is little doubt in my mind that this squad will continue to progress and achieve great things”.
Graham Shaw, Ireland women’s national coach, praised the contribution Gray has had on the side.
“Emma has been the backbone of the Green Army defence for several years. She led by example on and off the pitch throughout her international career. Her composure and dedication will be sorely missed. We all wish her the best in her retirement”.
Gray is currently pursuing her PhD and will continue to play club hockey for Hermes and is grateful “to everyone at Hermes HC for always offering the support and guidance that has enabled me to play at the highest level”.