Emily Beatty said “it was like she never left” when she arrived into the team hotel the evening before the World Cup final following her late call-up.
“Whirlwind” hardly describes it for the Pembroke player who was “devastated” to initially be left out of the Green Army panel but had to stay very much on our toes for her opportunity to come.
Prior to the World Cup, Graham Shaw said the speedy midfielder was incredibly close to making the cut, scoring a classy winner against Chile and impressing in the draw with Italy in the warm-up series.
With Roisin Upton carrying a hamstring injury and Megan Frazer a question-mark due to her knee issues, it was a very tough call to leave her out. Shaw, though, knew the circumstances were such that he would probably need to call on his reserve panel at some stage.
“It was the most devastating setback in my hockey career,” Beatty told the Hook – at the launch of the Dublin Sports Fest this week – about the moment she learned she would not be part of the World Cup panel of 18.
“To go so far, put so much work in and then come agonisingly short was very tough. With the girls doing so well, it was unfortunate for one of them to have an injury and never what you want. When the girls did go away, Graham did say there is always a chance.”
“Unfortunately, we didn’t have the funding to bring the reserves along to the tournament. So we had a fitness and gym schedule to do on our own time in case anything was to happen.”
Along with Sinead Loughran and Naomi Carroll, Beatty headed away to Spain to get away from things but resisted temptations to cut loose.
“The World Cup is such a major event, you would be mad to do anything jeopardise yourself and your position. We just relaxed and did our fitness sessions!”
Highlight of the day (maybe the month) – stars of the show at launch of @dccsportsrec sports fest were @EmilyBeatty4 & @GillianPinder1 whose silver medals were a big draw for the primary school kids. The legacy lives on @IreWomenHockey pic.twitter.com/kVe6ZIF0Ja
— Sarah O'Connor (@sarahyoconnor) September 4, 2018
The trio crowded around screens to watch the early games; after that, there were a few times when the phone buzzed before she eventually got the call for the final.
Indeed, she had her bag packed with supporter’s kit but soon had to swap that out for her playing gear.
“Over the tournament, I thought I might be brought in after the quarter-finals but Gilly [Pinder] got the all clear.
“When they got to the final, you do think the chance is probably over. I saw Gilly and Megan getting strapped up on tv. With hockey, with everyone playing every match, there’s always that chance and we always had to be ready!
“After the semis, I was supposed to be heading over just to support the girls but I got a message there was an injury and they didn’t really know what the story was! I ended up having to change my flight to Saturday and on Sunday morning got told Megan was unfortunately injured and so I was in and playing!
“For me, to get out there and play after all the years of hard work, was a fantastic opportunity and the girls were so welcoming.
“It was like I had never left; I had played so much of the build-up and practice matches, been with the girls for so many years and so many tournaments. It was only really five matches I hadn’t been around for and had been in the 20 before that.”
— RTE One (@RTEOne) September 7, 2018
Since the final, it has been an incredible month, starting with the homecoming on Dame Street and culminating in a visit to Aras an Uachtaran on Friday and then on to the Late Late Show.
The invite to launch the Dublin Sportsfest is another example of how far their stock has risen with the silver medals a star attraction for young kids at Irishtown Stadium.
Gillian Pinder was also at the launch event and said it has been very different to a normal preseason experience.
“It’s been brilliant, very different from a normal August and September!” she told The Hook. “Everyone wants to talk about hockey. Sometimes, you get home from tournaments and its the last thing you want to talk about. It’s certainly not the case this time!
“Clubs have asked if I could come down and meet their youth players and loads of things like that, invitations to events you would never normally get an invitation to. It’s now about trying to balance that with my training and the other stuff I do with my life!
“I was down the pier in Dun Laoghaire and this lady stopped me, asking if I was part of the team. I wasn’t wearing any Irish gear but she wanted a photo. That was strange for sure but I wasn’t complaining!”
— Green Army (@IreWomenHockey) September 8, 2018
Both will be in Dublin for the upcoming season and so will be star attractions when they hit the turf with Pembroke on September 29 when the EY Hockey League returns.
Beatty will be continuing her studies at RCSI where she has started second-year medicine. Pinder, meanwhile, will head up girls hockey at her alma mater St Andrew’s but does have plans to potentially play abroad in the future.
As such, the Ballsbridge club can look at the new season with plenty of optimism to try and bridge the gap to the top four. Loughran returns to the club as does Avril Dooley-O’Carroll from Trinity and Sinead Clarke from UCD.
Tara Melvin – a member of the Colaiste Iognaid Kate Russell winning side in 2009 – also joins after a spell with Bowdon in the English Premier Division while Lynne Froeschle is an eye-catching addition from Hamburg’s Club an der Alster.
“There’s a lot of players going abroad [from other clubs] which could weaken some of the teams we are playing against,” Pinder says.
“We have gotten stronger with Gavin Groves taking over so it’s exciting; there is a definitely a top-four finish in us and I would be disappointed if we don’t bridge that gap from where we were last year.
“Getting Pembroke into a couple more finals and playing the top teams on a more regular basis would be great!”
** Emily Beatty & Gill Pinder teamed up with Dublin City Council and Dublin City Sport and Wellbeing Partnership to launch the inaugural Dublin Sportsfest, a week-long celebration of sport throughout the City of Dublin which will take place from 23rd – 30th September.
They are encouraging the people of Dublin to ‘Make Some Me Time’ by getting active and enjoying the wealth of sport and recreational amenities that our city has to offer.
— Dublin City Sport & Wellbeing Partnership (@dccsportsrec) September 5, 2018