Hockey Internationals Deirdre Duke, Anna O’Flanagan and Chloe Watkins Announce their Retirements

May 15, Dublin: Deirdre Duke, Anna O’Flanagan and Chloe Watkins, all of whom were part of the 2018 Hockey World Cup squad who brought home the Silver Medal for Ireland, have announced their retirements from international hockey.

Deirdre Duke

DEIRDRE DUKE made her International debut for the IRL Women’s team in June 2013 against Scotland and went on to a play a total of 173 times for Ireland. She began her hockey career with Three Rock Rovers and also played senior hockey with Hermes while still in school.  She won the All-Ireland Club Championship with Hermes in 2008 in a team featuring Chloe Watkins and Anna O’Flanagan. Having won the Leinster Schools Cup with Alexandra College in 2011 she went to UCD the following September. In her first season at UCD she won an Irish Senior Cup winners medal. She spent a year in the United States where she played in Boston with the Northeastern Huskies. She returned home to Ireland in 2013 and resumed her studies at UCD, and in her first season back UCD won the Irish Hockey League and Senior Cup double. Deirdre was a member of the Ireland team that won the Women’s EuroHockey Championship II, defeating the Czech Republic 5-0 in the final.

In 2016 she replaced Katie Mullan as UCD captain and in the first season as captain, UCD won the EY Hockey League, Irish Senior Cup and EY Champions Trophy treble. The following season UCD won the EY Hockey League and Irish Senior Cup double again. She was part of the Ireland squad that were beaten in the World Cup Final in 2018 hosted by England and when the tournament was over, she spent a season playing with Dusseldorfer Hockey Club in 2018-19 season when they reached the German Final Four playoffs. In 2019 she was also a member of the Ireland squad which won Silver at the FIH Hockey Series.

In 2021 despite initially being selected as the Travelling Reserve for the European Championships she stepped into the main panel following Sarah Torrans having to miss out through injury and her goal against England was voted “Goal of the Tournament”. Deirdre Duke has been playing for Old Alexandra in the EYHL for the past few seasons since Hockey returned after the COVID 19 shut down. She was part of the 2021 Olympics squad, where Ireland finished 10th, and also played at the 2022 Women’s World Cup where Ireland were based in Amstelveen in the Netherlands. Deirdre was also part of the 2023 European Championships squad in Germany and most recently, participated in the Olympic Qualifier in Spain in January 2024, scoring two goals and making the decision to retire following the qualifiers.

Anna O’Flanagan

ANNA O’FLANAGAN made her international debut for the Women’s International team in July 2010 against Scotland and went on to play a total of 220 times for Ireland. Her first international goal arrived in April 2011 against France, the first of 89 International goals for the Girls in Green. She is the all-time record goal-scorer for the Ireland international women’s team.
In her early career she played for Muckross Park College and joined Hermes in her mid-teens at the start of her senior career. While she was still a student at Muckross Park College she was part of the Hermes side that won the 2008 All Ireland Club Championships for Women. Two of her teammates were Chloe Watkins and Deirdre Duke. Her switch to UCD brought plenty more trophies. Irish Senior Cup success in 2012 was followed up Euro Hockey Challenge I success in 2013 and a second Irish Senior Cup win in 2014 to go with the Irish Senior League in 2014.  Anna scored the winning goal in 2012 Irish Senior Cup Final a 3-2 win over Loreto. O’Flanagan scored again in the 2014 Final in a 2-0 win over Pembroke Wanderers in a UCD side that also included Katie Mullan, Gillian Pinder, Emily Beatty, Nikki Evans and Deirdre Duke.
Along with Chloe Watkins and Evans, she joined Hermes-Monkstown in 2015 where they won the inaugural EY Hockey League title and EY Champions Trophy in 2016. In the EY Champions Trophy Final Anna scored twice in the 3-1 win over Pegasus. A two-year spell in the Netherlands followed, taking a break from her legal career, to prepare for the 2018 Women’s World Cup. In her first year she was coached by former world player of the year Teun De Nooijer, culminating in a Gold Cup win with HC Bloemendaal. She spent her second season in the Hoofdklasse with PinokĂ©.
At international level Ireland won bronze at the 2012 Champions Challenge I and silver at the 2014 edition of the same competition. Wins followed in the World League Round 2 in 2015 and 2017 and Anna won gold medals in both tournaments. Her 100th appearance for Ireland came in May 2015, scoring in a 3-1 win over Canada. She scored 12 goals at the Kuala Lumpur World League Tournament, including one in the final which saw her pass the 50 mark. Her goalscoring continued into the World Cup. On July 2018, she scored in the group game against India, securing a 1-0 win for Ireland and a place in the quarter-finals. On 4 August 2018 she also scored in the semi-final against Spain. This was her 65th international goal which saw her level the previous record and she has since gone on to score a further 24 international goals and retires on 89 goals.
2019 saw her land the Player of The Tournament at the World Series Finals in Banbridge and she was Ireland’s top scorer in 2019 (joint-top) and the 2021 Europeans.  Anna O’Flanagan was also in the 2021 Olympics Squad in Tokyo. At club level post Covid-19 she returned to Muckross to play for their EYHL side and act as assistant coach. Her work career has taken her to London in recent years, which included a break from international hockey but continues to play her club hockey for Hampstead & Westminster. She returned to the National panel and trained with the Irish squad in 2023 & 2024 but did not play in the Olympic qualification tournament in January. In her absence, there hasn’t been an obvious consistent goal-scorer at international level and the search for her successor goes on.

Chloe Watkins

CHLOE WATKINS made her international debut for the Women’s international team in July 2010 against Scotland, just a month after completing her Leaving Certificate, and went on to play a total of 242 times for Ireland.

Hailing from a famous hockey family, her father Gordon and brother Gareth also played for Ireland. As such, much of her youth was spent going down to Monkstown to watch her brother, Gareth, also an international, in action and she was itching to hit the turf. At St. Andrew’s College she played in four Leinster Schoolgirl’s Senior Cup finals, winning the 2006 Cup as a 13-year-old, scoring a goal against Loreto Beaufort to win 2-0. They beat the same opposition in the 2009 final and, in 2010 Chloe captained St. Andrew’s College as they defeated an Alexandra College team that featured Deirdre Duke. For good measure they added the Kate Russell All Ireland Schoolgirls title with a 3-1 win over Coláiste Iognáid, Galway 3-1 in the final.

In 2008, while still a 16-year-old schoolgirl, Watkins together with fellow schoolgirls, Anna O’Flanagan, Deirdre Duke and Nicky Evans, was a member of the Hermes team that won the All-Ireland Ladies Club Championships. She began playing for UCD in 2010-11 and won an Irish Senior Cup medal in her second season. In her third season UCD won a European trophy the Euro Hockey Challenge I. She spent a year in Spain as part of her studies in Commerce and Spanish on Erasmus. During that time, she played for Club Campo de Madrid winning the League and Cup double in Spain. She returned to UCD in 2014-25 and played for the students in European Club action in her final season at Belfield. She returned to Hermes-Monkstown in 2015 along with Anna O’Flanagan and Nikki Evans, winning the EY Hockey League Women’s title and the EY Champions Trophy. She moved to the Hoofdklasse together with Anna O’Flanagan both players signing for HC Bloemendaal . In her season with Bloemendaal, they won the Gold Cup. When she returned to Ireland she resumed her career with Monkstown  and won the Irish Senior Cup again with them in 2023 before suffering relegation from EY Hockey League Women’s Division 1 in the current season.

Highlights of her international career included a 2012 Champions Challenge bronze bettered two years later by a silver in Dublin in 2014. World League Round 2 gold came in 2015 and 2017. During the 2018 World Cup silver medal run, Watkins scored twice in the shoot-outs. In the quarter-final against India she scored the winning effort to send Ireland through to the semi-final. She also scored in the semi-final against Spain. In the final against the Netherlands she made her 200th senior international appearance for Ireland. And her prowess in the shoot-out continued to the Olympic qualifiers in 2019 when she coolly slotted her effort on the backhand to keep the contest alive against Canada, leading to that famous “Watkins Wink” directed at goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran. Watkins revealed in the summer of 2020 that she had undergone surgery after she experienced heart palpitations at a training camp in South Africa. She said she was lucky to have caught it in time with the elective surgery likely to have been put on hold had it been during lockdown time. She recovered in time to be a member of the 2021 squad which represented Ireland at the Tokyo Olympics.