Hockey team’s World Cup fame a ‘rollercoaster’ for Graham’s family

By Aideen O'Flaherty 

THE father of the coach of the Irish Senior Ladies Hockey Team has described how the bank holiday weekend was “like a rollercoaster” for him, after seeing his son’s team soar to second place in the Women’s Hockey World Cup where they secured silver medals.

Firhouse native Graham Shaw (39) has been head coach of the Irish Senior Ladies Hockey Team since 2015, and on Sunday he watched as his team competed in the World Cup final before shooting through the women’s hockey team world rankings at a phenomenal pace – going from 16th in the world to 8th.

Shaw Family01

Graham shaw's family; Derek Fowler, Alyssa and David Shaw, Nuala and Victor Shaw, Tracey Fowler and (front) Sky and Willow Shaw and Caitlin and Adam Fowler

The Irish team brought a strong showing against the Netherlands, who were ultimately crowned the world champions for the eighth time, at the final in London, but securing the silver medals was still an historic moment for the ladies in green and their coach, who never anticipated reaching the final.

Victor Shaw, Graham’s father, told The Echo: “It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster – it’s been very exciting and very emotional.

“When he was going off for the World Cup he said his aim was to get to the quarter final, but the team just kept on achieving – it was unbelievable.

“We’re very proud of what Graham has achieved, he’s always shown that he’s very good at winning, and when he takes on a job he works really hard to achieve.

“It was surprising – what he achieved went way above what anyone else, and probably even himself, expected.”

Graham, who is a past pupil of Coláiste Éanna in Rathfarnham, developed a passion for sport in his youth, where he played hurling and Gaelic football for his school team and soccer for Lourdes Celtic, which led to him having a successful trial for Oxford United when he was 16.

Graham’s parents, Victor and Nuala, told the teen that he would have to stay at home in Dublin to sit his Leaving Certificate, and so Graham turned his attention to hockey where he played for the Springfield-based Glenanne Hockey Club. He then went on to win 151 senior caps for Ireland.

Graham became a coach in numerous clubs, including Glenanne, Monkstown and Loreto Ladies, and then became an assistant coach to Darren Smith, who was the head coach of the Irish Ladies Hockey Team, and he took Darren’s position when the coach returned to New Zealand in 2015.

Speaking about how Graham felt when he got the head coach position, Victor said: “He was over the moon about it, it was the obvious step forward for him.”

The team returned to a rapturous homecoming on Monday, where hundreds of their supporters filled Dame Street to celebrate the team’s success, and there are high hopes that the ladies will qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Reflecting on the impact of the success of the Irish Women’s Hockey Team, Victor said: “It will mean a lot of younger girls will aspire to get into hockey teams and eventually progress to the senior team.

“Hopefully the younger girls will see the women from the senior team as role models.”

Players from the local area include Rathfarnham women Ali Meeke and Hannah Matthews, while Templeogue’s Nicci Daly also lined up with the girls in green.

Barbara O’Malley, the president of Glenanne Hockey Club, told The Echo: “It’s an amazing achievement considering the odds, and being the 16th seed, and now this has brought them to the 8th seed.

“Glenanne Hockey Club is very proud of Graham and the team, and as hockey people [their success] is beyond our wildest dreams.”

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