Ireland's most capped sportswoman Shirley McCay is to receive an honorary degree from Queen's University for her services to hockey.
The Pegasus defender, who has played 305 times for Ireland, will formally receive the accolade at a graduation ceremony later this year.
McCay, who works for Ulster Hockey as a talent coach, says she is delighted to be recognised for her achievements in the sport.
The 31-year-old helped Ireland to an unprecedented second-place finish at the World Cup in London in 2018, prompting her to do a U-turn on her plans to retire from the international arena.
Now, after three unsuccessful attempts, she is looking forward to competing at an Olympic Games for the first time in Tokyo in the summer, having won her 300th cap at the qualifying event in Dublin.
"I feel very honoured, especially as I believe I am the first hockey player to receive such recognition," she said.
"I was really shocked when I got the call and I actually thought it was work-related as I had been booking the pitch at Queen's for some sessions, so I had no idea what was coming.
"I was completely surprised and it's a fantastic achievement for me personally and for the sport of hockey as well."
McCay hopes her achievements can help her act as a role model for aspiring hockey players throughout the island, particularly in the light of Ireland's achievement at the World Cup and qualifying for Tokyo.
"I have been working in hockey for the last six years and I would hope that has proved a really good base not only to inspire the future generation of players but also to indicate that you can combine coaching with playing," she added.
McCay also paid tribute to her employer for their support throughout her six years in the post which has seen her spend much time on the training pitch and in action for Ireland.
"Ulster Hockey have been phenomenal and I owe so much to them over the past number of years for allowing me to pursue my own hockey career while also trying to give something back to them," she said.
The announcement of McCay's accolade came yesterday during the official opening of the new hockey facilities at Queen's Sport's HQ at The Dub.
In addition to a world-class brand new playing surface, the refurbishment at The Dub, which cost £1.2m, includes a television tower, a covered stand for spectators, new dugouts and an electronic scoreboard.
McCay was among the 28-strong extended Irish squad to help officially open the new facilities, having used the complex for two three-day training camps over the past fortnight.