Martin: Funding the key question to keep hockey’s momentum goiing

John Flack: You also played for Ireland in the 1990 World Cup so how did the two tournaments compare?

Stephen Martin: “Both were/are talented squads and made history in their own right, representing Ireland at the 1990 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games are fantastic achievements.

“I was very impressed with the overall quality of Rio 2016 squads play throughout the tournament – the level of intensity, skill and commitment now achievable due to the rolling substitution rules.

“In general, the rule change made over the past 10 years have made hockey a great sport to watch at the highest level. Paul McGinley and the Irish golf team , other team Ireland competitors didn’t miss too many matches in Rio!

“The coaching team have already highlighted that the small margins around penalty corners were the difference between just missing out on a quarter-final place. In general play Ireland were a match for most teams in Rio.

“The fact that three teams from their pool made the semi-finals and Argentina went on to win gold is an indication of the strength of the opposition in their pool.

“However, the team will reflect on the fact that they have had a very positive impact at the Rio Olympic Games and I’m sure will wish to consolidate their position in world hockey by qualifying for the next world cup.

“It’s important that they do and keep the momentum going and, in order to do so, the funding available from Sport Ireland and Hockey Ireland will be the next key question.”

JF: Is there any prospect of the carding scheme being extended to fund individuals within team sports ? How does GB differ in terms of funding mechanisms apart from the fact they have a huge investment, allowing individuals to go full-time ?

SM: “We were delighted to have a team sport included in Rio and I’m sure hockey and rugby sevens will wish to be part of team Ireland in Tokyo 2020.

“In light of the men’s team’s qualification and Games performance, I think Sport Ireland will review team sport funding and carding for the next Olympic cycle,

“Team sports are expensive but I think a solution can be found to enable the best players to commit to the team for a new 4-year cycle.

JF: How successful was GB men’s performance in Rio?

“The centralised full-time model in GB has clearly not worked and although their players are full-time, their performances were well below par. Ireland played with more ability and passion than their well-funded counterparts.

“It is a personal opinion but I don’t think that a full time, centralised programme is the best solution for Irish men’s hockey as many benefit from being contracted to top clubs in Europe benefiting from playing alongside the best players in Holland, Spanish, Belgian and English leagues.

“However, the approach adopted in the past year in preparation for Rio requires comprehensive funding and further player commitment.

JF: What role should Irish hockey’s governing body have between now and Tokyo 2020?

SM: “Hockey Ireland now realise that in order to sustain senior high-performance programmes they cannot just rely on Sport Ireland funding and need to continue to adopt successful campaigns of generating income as seen in the build up to Rio 2016.”

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