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Ireland hockey girls up to highest world ranking after silver success

Ireland women's hockey team are up to eighth in the world after winning the silver medal at the FIH Women's World Cup.

Graham Shaw's side went into the tournament ranked 16th, the second lowest of all the teams competing. But they upset the odds to reach the final, ousting India and Spain on the way.

Ireland are the highest movers in the latest update to the list, leapfrogging their previous highest world ranking of 14th. The World Cup squad included six Ulster players; star goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran, Katie Mullan, Lizzie Colvin, Shirley McCay, Megan Frazer and Zoe Wilson.

Their World Cup run captured the Irish imagination, thrusting hockey into the spotlight as they saw off teams ranked seventh (USA), 10th (India) and 11th (Spain) before eventually falling to world number one side Netherlands in the final.

Ireland have jumped over the likes of USA, China and India in the latest rankings list but even more significantly, their World Cup performances have brought the promise of a funding injection into the sport.

Irish sports minister Shane Ross revealed after the squad's arrival home on Monday that their achievement is to be rewarded with increased funding as they prepare for the Olympic qualifying cycle ahead of Tokyo 2020.

Mr Ross revealed that hockey in general will benefit from a "significant share" of an additional £1.34m funding for Olympic sports, without going into precise details of the amount.

Ireland men's side are 10th in the world going into their World Cup campaign in India in November.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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