One of Irish Hockey’s greats, Nicci Daly, has decided to bow out of international undertakings following a phenomenal career in the Irish jersey.
The 33-year-old first donned the Green Army kit against Belgium in 2010 and the time surpassed since has seen what many regard as the ‘golden era’ of the sport in the country.
Playing a major part in the side’s World Cup final silver medal triumph of 2018, the Data engineer concluded her career at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo in the summer gone by having also competed at five European Championships in her time.
The Rathfarnham native is credited with scoring one of Ireland’s best goals ever when she beat the South Africa defence at the 2016 Olympic qualifiers, attributing the strike not just as a “good goal” but also as one with a “deeper meaning” too.
“I struggled with confidence as a player and had struggled to unlock my potential in games” she reminisces.
“Leading into the Rio Olympic qualifier, it was my uncle Derek who helped me. I knew I was better than I was showing.
World Cup medalist & Olympian Nicci Daly to hang up her hockey stick, after 200 caps in green… an outrageously skilful athlete, and an incredible ambassador for both hockey & for women. Happy retirement, @NicciDaly22 – will NEVER forget this strike from the 2015 World League! 🎨 pic.twitter.com/9CQRWfxvd5— Elaine Buckley (@ElaineBucko) December 10, 2021
“It felt like the moment it all clicked for me and gave me the confidence and reassurance I needed to believe I was good enough.”
Her childhood background filled with a myriad of sports ranging from Gaelic football to the evident hockey, the afore mentioned uncle Derek and her father Vivion gave her a particular interest in motorsport as they regularly visited Mondello track.
Now a leading light in the area herself, she is a qualified motorsport engineer as well as being involved in the Formula Female campaign among others, commenting that she likes to think she gets her “drive” from her dad and her “strength and resilience” from her Mum.
“My family and very close friends have been the backbone of my support system. I could not have done it without them, especially my mother who shows me what resilience really is” she says.
“My uncle Derek was hugely influential, having had a career at the top level himself, I trusted him and looked up to him. He helped transform the mental side of my game and I am so grateful for his support. A special mention to my nana, an unrelenting energy and inspiration.”
Reflecting over the “highs and lows both personally and collectively” of her international hockey career, the biggest lesson she has learned is just “how much sport can teach you about yourself.”
“You learn to understand how you behave when you’re challenged, how you deal with your emotions under pressure and how you choose to approach those challenges.”
“You have to be honest with yourself; you have to be willing to have a growth mindset so that you’re always learning and always growing not just as a player but as a person.”
“It has been a special journey and I feel so lucky to have been part of such a great team for as long as I have. I won’t miss the sore body and aching joints but I will miss the team and the feeling of walking out to represent my country. 200 appearances and every single time I got butterflies when the national anthem played.”
“It’s been special, it’s been emotional and it’s been a dream come true.”
“Thank you 💚.”
That goal, the skill, 6 stone soaking wet but my God an incredibly tough no nonsense competitor. Technically brilliant tactically astute but for me just a bloody good person. Enjoy the next chapter @NicciDaly22 Be brilliant in everything you do ❤️ https://t.co/7B13axA2nS— Arlene Boyles (@bak2me) December 10, 2021