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Varadkar 100% funding pledge to hockey side

Ireland captain Katie Mullan
Ireland captain Katie Mullan

By Stephen Findlater

Leo Varadkar says the Irish women's hockey team will have access to significantly increased funds as they plan their road to Tokyo 2020.

The Taoiseach was among the 6,137-strong crowd at Energia Park on Sunday to witness the side qualify for the Olympic Games for the first time.

Varadkar admitted he was jumping on the bandwagon, stating it was his first time watching the sport in 20 years since his sister played for Mount Sackville in her school days.

"I hate to be political but Government has been putting money into women's sport for a number of years," he said. "It is paying off and we will continue to do that and give this team 100% for Tokyo."

Asked if that means a significant increase will be forthcoming if they ask for it, he replied: "They will be getting it too!"

That will be music to the ears of coach Sean Dancer.

The Australian - who took over from Graham Shaw during the summer - would have been out of contract had the side missed out, but he is now certain to be around until completion of the Olympic cycle.

"I am certainly on board," he said. "It has been tough being away from my family for a long period of time. My wife and daughter are still back in New Zealand, my parents are in Australia, so it is quite distant."

Captain Katie Mullan said: "We got to a World Cup final last year and we are going out to Japan to punch above our weight as we always do."

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