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Chloe Brown keen to seize big indoor chance after dream move

 

By John Flack

Chloe Brown says she's excited about the chance to play for Ireland at the 2020 European Indoor Hockey Championship and her switch to East Grinstead can only enhance her prospects of making the team.

The 24-year-old former Ards striker has landed a dream move to the English Premiership outfit for the new season and she will be a key member of both their indoor and outdoor squads.

Indoor hockey has been a much more important part of the calendar across the water than in Ireland for decades now.

The national championship finals weekend, known as the Super Sixes, is played in front of thousands of spectators and a live television audience.

However, there have been signs that indoor hockey is on the rise again in this part of the world with new initiatives at Ulster youth level and Hockey Ireland's announcement that the national teams are to be reintroduced onto the European stage after a gap of more than 25 years.

All that is great news for Brown, who was headhunted by East Grinstead after impressing for Ards at last year's European Club Championship.

She explained: "We played them in Lithuania and narrowly lost 2-1 and they went on to win the bronze medals.

"While being out there and socialising with the other teams, the East Grinstead coach and I got talking.

"She liked how I played and last month she was in touch and asked me to come over to England, so I jumped at the chance.

"I am very excited about playing in the English Premier League and even more so about taking part in the Super Sixes."

Brown, who has 53 caps for Ireland at outdoor level, has established herself as the best indoor player on this island.

She has played in six European Championships for Ards, scoring 50 goals in the process.

Brown added: "I think it is brilliant that Hockey Ireland are entering men's and women's teams into the 2020 Europeans.

"I am, of course, disappointed to be leaving Ards where I have had eight great years and, ironically, while they are off to France for the Europeans next year, I won't be playing on the continent this time around.

"It was Bowden-Hightown who won the Super Sixes earlier this year, so they will be representing England in the indoor Europeans.

"Outdoors, East Grinstead finished third in the Investec League last season and qualified for the final four in which they narrowly lost to Holcombe 2-1, so I can't wait to get started."

Brown will be in illustrious company at her new club as East Grinstead include several other internationals, among them Laura Unsworth, who won gold with Great Britain at the Rio Olympics.

However, her loss will be a huge blow for Ards as she has been their leading scorer for most of her eight years at the club.

Ards coach Gareth Grundie said: "Naturally, we will miss Chloe but we are delighted that she has been able to join a top-level club and I am sure she will be a terrific asset to East Grinstead, in both the indoor and outdoor versions of the sport."

Brown, however, has been deemed surplus to requirements by Ireland, having been left out of a 29-strong World Cup training squad, but she is clearly highly regarded by the English side.

She has resigned herself to missing the trip to London but could yet come back into the reckoning for next year's European Championship and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic qualifying process.

Belfast Telegraph

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