Hannah Matthews, Irish hockey international and DCU alumni will be heading to Tokyo in 2020 as the Irish ladies beat Canada in their Olympic qualifier in Energia Park on the 2nd and 3rd of November.
Age 8, Hannah kickstarted her sporting career with a clear love of team sports and in the years to come she fell in love with hockey. A Loreto club player born and bred, Hannah had numerous hockey stars to look up to as a young girl with the likes of Cathy McKean, Clodagh Grealy and Louisa Healy all playing for Loreto.
Matthews attended Loreto Beaufort in Rathfarnham, Dublin and then advanced to DCU to study Athletic Therapy Training, where DCU were lucky enough to have her represent at intervarsity’s in 2009, 2010 and 2012 alongside Alison Meeke in 2009, where the Irish duo shone in the Chilean Cup. Matthews loved doing ATT and really enjoyed her time in DCU stating “DCU is a great supporter of all sports and I always felt that during my time there.”
A tar-black sky hung over Energia Park on the 2nd November, where Ireland faced the first leg of their Olympic Qualifier against Canada. The first game saw a nil all draw as the rain poured down all evening. “It meant so much that people took time out of their weekend to come down and stand in the horrific weather and support us,” said Matthews, who was quietly confident before the second game that they would win. “I was happy we were going into the second game with a draw as it kept things very simple, we just had to win.”
Energia Park in Donnybrook played host to the Olympic Qualifiers with a state-of-the-art Olympic standard pitch with the hope to showcase the Irish ladies qualify for the Olympics for the first time. Volunteers assisted in the transformation of the stadium and pitch with an outstanding effort from everyone involved, including both Hannah’s parents.
“It meant so much to us that all that effort was put in to give us the best possible venue for our qualifier. It’s also massive for the sport, it was such an amazing platform to showcase hockey and a great opportunity to broadcast it to so many people.”
The second leg of the qualifiers ended in a nil all draw which meant only one thing was next, penalties, where Ireland triumphed 4-3 in sudden death. After the game Matthews was really emotional saying “I suppose we have been waiting for this opportunity to come around again for four years and I just wanted it so much, so all of that emotion was just unleashed after the game.”
Matthews is currently on a small break from hockey during Christmas where after the holidays she will ramp up again, with a potential warm weather camp to begin the preparation for the conditions in Tokyo. Currently job sharing in Holy Trinity National School, Matthews describes the staff and students as extremely supportive and understands that, “not a lot of schools will employ someone who has such a big commitment to sport, but Holy Trinity did.“
Image Credit: DCU Hockey