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Shirley McCay could reverse retirement decision after Ireland's World Cup run

By John Flack

Shirley McCay is having second thoughts about quitting international hockey in the wake of Ireland's magnificent World Cup achievement in London.

The 30-year-old defender had a superb campaign and was one of the few stand-out players in yesterday's 6-0 loss to the Netherlands in the gold medal play-off.

Earlier in the tournament, she picked up the player-of-the-match award in the win over India which booked Ireland a place in the quarter-finals.

National coach Graham Shaw would dearly love the Pegasus player to stay on now that Ireland's stock and world ranking are set to rise on the back of the silver medals claimed against the odds.

More than a year ago, when Ireland were on the verge of qualification for their first World Cup since 2002, McCay announced that the trip to London would be her international swansong.

Now though, she's not so sure, as the enormity of Ireland's achievement begins to sink in.

Modest as ever, McCay preferred to talk about the collective rather than her own role in the achievement.

She said: "This is not all about me, it's about the team and, to be honest, I never thought this would happen so I need to go away and reflect and see.

"Now is not the time to be making any hasty decisions but I will go away, take some time out before deciding. But I haven't made my mind up. All I can say is that I will give it some thought and getting the silver medals had maybe changed my perspective on things."

McCay has undergone more heartache than any other member of the current Ireland squad but she seems to sense that maybe this is the dawn of a new era for Irish hockey.

She has been the victim of three failed Olympic qualifying attempts during her long career which yesterday saw her win her 273rd cap.

McCay is Ireland's most capped sportswoman and it seems she may well reconsider and perhaps go on to break the 300 barrier, something no other hockey player, male or female, had achieved in Ireland.

"I am looking forward to getting home, taking a break and enjoying reading the reports on social media about what we have done here," she added.

"I decided to come off Twitter for the duration of the tournament because it can be a distraction but it was down to individual choice and it wasn't forced upon us.

"Although it was naturally disappointing to lose the final by such a margin, the Dutch aren't the world number one for no reason.

"They were streets ahead of anyone else, including ourselves, but we have done brilliantly and it was no disgrace to lose to them.

"The disappointment didn't last long though and it was a proud moment for me to receive a silver medal after so many lows in the past.

"We are more used to the lows than the highs but we are living in a bit of a bubble at the moment and it's really hard to describe.

"Maybe when we go home, we'll reflect on what we've done for the sport and for people in Ireland as well."

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