Galway hockey star achieves international gloryAugust 17, 2012 - 7:58am
GALWAY City native Brenda Flannery is floating on air right now. Having just captained the Ireland U-21 hockey team to a European Championship title, Flannery’s reward has been a deserved call-up to the national senior squad.
This all comes on the back of a very successful year, during which the 21-year-old – a daughter of John and Dorinda Flannery, Salthill – was to the fore in helping UCD secure no less than five out of the six competition titles on offer.
These included the Irish Senior Cup and as a result of that success, Flannery, who graduates from vice captain to captain for the forthcoming season, will now lead her team-mates into the European Club Championships in May 2013.
In many respects, you would wonder where Flannery finds time to do it all, given the commitment and dedication that is required to play hockey at the highest level with club and country. In addition, she must also meet the demands of her third-year physiotherapy studies for the coming academic year, incorporating a challenging placement to the Mater Hospital.
A humble Flannery, however, remains unfazed. “I am on the UCD elite athlete academy, on a scholarship,” explains the Galway girl. “There are seven hockey players on it now from around Ireland and it is kind of a programme designed to help balance academic and sporting life, so you can pursue both.
“They (UCD) have been fantastic. They have brought athletes in from all over Ireland – in many different disciplines – and we had two [from UCD] in the Olympics, Annalise Murphy (Laser Redial) and Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe (Modern Pentathlon), and there are many more to come through, definitely, in the next couple of years.”
Certainly, UCD’s scholarship programme has benefitted Flannery and the hockey team. In addition to the Irish Senior Cup, the Dublin College won the Leinster League, Leinster Jacqui Potter Cup, the Inter-varsities and annual Colours fixture, in which UCD and Trinity meet every year.
Another Galway girl in that UCD hockey team is Dora Gorman, a talented dual player on a soccer scholarship at the university. “Dora is like a super woman, she really is,” says Brenda. “She is absolutely fantastic.”
Indeed, both girls burgeoning sports careers, in some ways, have run parallel, with each enjoying success with Greenfields in hockey and Salthill Devon in soccer, winning U-16 and U-18 All-Irelands in the latter in their teenage years.
For her part, Flannery has also represented Ireland in soccer, lining out for the national U-17 team, but in the end she chose hockey as her No. 1 sport while Gorman went with the bigger ball.
“It was hard to choose between the soccer and the hockey. I suppose, I really had a passion for hockey and I just found that hockey was where I could really shine. It was hard to pick. I love both but at the end of the day hockey was where I really wanted to be.”
No doubt, she must really have felt that decision paid off when she was handed the captaincy of the Ireland U-21 hockey team, which was reinstated to the international circuit after a hiatus of a number of years.
For more of this interview with Brenda Flannery see this week’s Tribune.