Hannah Humphreys will play her first-ever competitive indoor hockey match this morning at the EuroHockey Championships III in Bratislava.
For the UCC goalkeeper — who was last week named in an Irish U23 development panel — it has been a crash-course introduction to the code.
Due to exams, she could not attend trials before Christmas while plans to play in the Munster championships were scuppered when a number of clubs withdrew and the competition was scrapped.
But Irish coach Dave Passmore felt Humphreys all-action outdoor style could be easily adapted to indoor which requires a fearless and fast keeper.
“I’ve no experience at all,” Humphreys joked this week. “Dave asked me try out before Christmas so I watched [some games online] and saw how involved the keepers were and thought that looks just like me.”
It is something her earliest goalkeeping coach at Ashton HC and St Angelas’s, Alan Good — formerly of this parish — backs up.
“When I first saw her at U-14s, she was a lunatic in the pads,” he said.
“By then was a force to be reckoned with in terms of her reactions and athleticism, but it was her attitude that stood out. Most goalkeepers need help being aggressive but she had no issue. It was an instinct I never wanted to suppress. We used her as an auxiliary centre-back to help transfer around the back, as she loved diving and making big clears with her stick; she wanted to use it as a passing skill.
“It doesn’t surprise me one bit that her style transfers so well to indoor. She has always joked about wanting to be the first runner on corners, and now she actually gets to.”
The Euros themselves — like the Irish men’s bronze winning side a week ago — are a journey into the unknown. All seven sides involved are newcomers to the international scene. Humphreys is relishing being part of it and particularly thankful to Passmore for his support.
“Being from Munster, you are on the blindside of some coaches but he has given me so many opportunities and seen something in me which I am really grateful for. Sometimes we feel a bit hard done by [in Munster] but hopefully, that is changing. Especially with indoor: This is a sport every one can play, you don’t need a big pitch, just a hall. If it can grow, the sport generally can grow. Hopefully it gives a bigger impetus for Munster hockey to get something properly set up.”
Elsewhere, the Irish women’s outdoor team have a double-header in Stellenbosch over the weekend. They play Germany on Saturday and the South African hosts on Sunday looking to continue their winning start to the tour. They beat SA 1-0 last Sunday before seeing off the Netherlands U21s on Tuesday 3-1.
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