Sport

Erin Getty aiming to seize opportunity on her return to Ireland hockey set-up

Erin Getty in Irish action in 2017.
Erin Getty in Irish action in 2017.

Erin Getty is looking to grab her opportunity with both hands at this week's World Cup qualifiers following her return to the Irish senior women's panel nearly four years on from her last cap.

It follows a long and winding road for the Randalstown woman to get back to this level having debuted against Germany in Dusseldorf in April 2017 for the first of her eight caps.

This time around, she is in Pisa a day out from the first of three must-win games with world number 27 side France on the agenda (10.30am Irish time – live on www.eurohockeytv.org).

She is one of three players making their ranking tournament debuts alongside Ellen Curran and uncapped Niamh Carey.

"It is a baptism of fire, going into such an important tournament," Getty said ahead of a cut-throat tournament in which any loss will rule Ireland out of the running for next summer's World Cup.

"It's not just for the girls coming in but also important to build on the legacy of what the older girls have created with success in the World Cup and Olympics. We are under no illusions it will be easy. Every match will be hard. We are prepared and focused for France on Thursday."

Her international journey had begun at lightning speed in the midst of finishing up her A-Levels at Belfast Royal Academy in 2017, when she was catapulted into the senior panel by Graham Shaw.

It marked her out as a potential bolter for the 2018 World Cup with her performances at club level with Randalstown and with the youth international sides.

However, a severe hamstring injury left her on the sidelines for nine months and it has proven a long road to get back into the Green Army frame.

"I was really enjoying every moment up until that point," Getty said from Pisa where Ireland will meet France tomorrow (Thursday) in the first of three must-win games for a place at the 2022 World Cup.

"I came back from that but wasn't where I needed to be physically and wasn't in a position to make the step up to the seniors."

Getty did go on to captain the Irish Under-21s at the 2019 European Championships and the Irish indoor side later that year but, in tandem with her microbiology course at university and the Covid break, it was only this year she felt in the right shape to push for senior selection with the support from Queen's Sport and their elite athlete programme.

"I took a step away to get to where I needed to be physically to put my hand up to rejoin the squad this summer after Covid.

"At Easter time, I contacted Dave Passmore to say 'I think I am where I need to be – if you would like to have me, I would like to be involved again' with the age group panels."

Passmore was the national indoor coach and also oversees the Under-23 development programme, making him a key figure in her regeneration.

"There were plenty of difficult conversations along the way about taking a break away from the programme. It has always been open, honest communication with him – he trusted in my ability and I knew where I had to be to get back in.

"He was as excited to see me as I was to see him and everyone in the squad. That helped knowing everyone was behind me and it has been great to have."

Passmore duly hailed her as the stand-out as Ireland's development team enjoyed a marquee series win over Great Britain as well as defeating the Welsh senior team.

And it put her in the frame for one of the defensive spots following the conclusion of the Olympic cycle and she is keen to embrace every second.

"I am just really enjoying it. Maybe I am playing my best in recent years but it is just an exciting time with lots of opportunity to grab with both hands.

"It is an exciting time but definitely a transition with the turnaround time for the girls at the Olympics. The time for us newcomers coming in has been quite tight and it hasn't been a long preparation period but what we have done in a short time has been pretty impressive. We know exactly what we have to do and is exciting to go out and do it!"