SHIRLEY McCay was in reflective mood this week after helping Ireland take a step closer to qualification for the 2018 World Cup in London.
On Sunday McCay notched her 231st cap in helping Ireland defeat hosts Malaysia 3-0 in the final of a World League 2 qualifying tournament.
During the tournament in Kuala Lumpur the Irish won all six matches, scoring 38 goals in the process and conceding just the once.
In June Graham Shaw’s Green Army will now play in a World League 3 qualifying tournament in either Belgium or South Africa in a bid to secure a top-eight finish and a ticket for London. McCay, who during the tournament marked 10 years as part of the national team, believes Ireland can clear the final hurdle to ultimate qualification.
“We were expected to do well in the tournament and reach the final,” said the 28-year-old Drumquin woman..
“We were ranked second behind Italy who were beaten in the semis by Malaysia.
“There is a good crop of players coming through and personally I still have the hunger and really enjoying it.
“The World Cup is the next best thing to the Olympics and with the number of teams increased for London we have a better chance of qualifying.
“We’ll have a week or two off now and then it will be straight back into a full training schedule.”
During the tournament Ireland hit lightweights Kazakhstan, Hong Kong and Singapore for double figures in the group stages as well as defeating Malaysia 2-1.
A 2-0 semi-final victory over Wales set up a final showdown with Malaysia which Ireland won thanks to goals from Anna O’Flanagan, Katie Mullan and Zoe Wilson.
Ireland’s success was also achieved without one of their star players.
“Megan Frazer did her ACL in October but fingers crossed she’ll be back for June,” added the Ulster Hockey development coach.
“We’ll have to see what happens but either way we are determined to do it with or without Megan.”