McLoughlin relishing Euro experience as big Scottish date nears

Women’s EuroHockey Championships – Ireland v Scotland preview
Monday, June 7th: 11.30am (Irish time, live on RTE2), Wagener Stadium

Hannah McLoughlin says while there is no way to be satisfied with a 4-0 loss, there was enough in the Irish performance against the Netherlands to carry into their vital group game against Scotland on Monday.

“We’re 18 extremely competitive people so none of us will walk away being 100% happy with that scoreline,” the defender said as her side looks to bounce back and get back in the frame for a semi-final spot.

“After the initial emotions go away and we look back, there’s an awful lot of positives to take. Couple that with working on a few things that we didn’t do quite how we wanted, I think it will be a really exciting tournament for us.”

For McLoughlin, a graduate of Avoca and Loreto Hockey Clubs, Saturday’s tie was a first senior international tournament appearance and the latest step in a meteoric rise to prominence.

Last September she was on the fringes of the panel but a star performance in the Irish Senior Cup pushed her claims and a good winter has seen her be ever-present in training camps ever since.

“As cliché as it sounds, it’s been surreal; it’s the only word for it,” McLoughlin said. “I don’t want this experience to pass me by. I am with an amazing group of friends, doing what I love and all 18 of us have worked extremely hard and all deserve to be here.

“The atmosphere was unbelievable. I have never played in front of a crowd that big and a home tournament for the Dutch – you have to hit the ground running!”

The difference in opponent is stark between day one and two; from meeting the world standard bearers, they now meet the world number 22 who are the lowest rated of the eight teams in Amsterdam this week.

That rating, though, is often a false perspective as the Scots can only pick up a miniscule amount of ranking points in Olympic cycles as the minor party in Great Britain’s Olympic line-up.

It also means little can be drawn from the Green Army’s 4-1 and 5-1 victories over the Scots in Belfast last month. Three GB players – Charlotte Watson, Sarah Robertson and Amy Costello – are back in the fold since then as is goalkeeper Amy Gibson who plies her trade professionally in Germany.

What Ireland have seen, though, is the Scots opening game, a 4-1 defeat to an impressive Spanish outfit.

For Ireland, the good news is Lizzie Holden did not sustain a concussion from the ball that hit her head in the game against the Dutch and she should be available to play a part.

And the top two in the four-team group remains the first goal.

“Scotland is definitely a game to target three points and we are confident we can come out of it,” McLoughlin concluded.

“If we look back on the Dutch game, take the things we did really well and tweak the others we didn’t do to the best of our ability, we will get those three points another three against Spain.”