Women's World Cup: Minister promises funding boost for Ireland hockey heroes
Irish Minister for Sport Shane Ross has said hockey will benefit from a "significant share" of an additional £1.34m funding for Olympic sports.
The Ireland women's team returned home on Monday after a sensational World Cup performance, with the team of largely amateur players reaching the final.
There have been calls for more funding for Ireland's hockey heroes and Ross welcomed the team at Dublin Airport.
"You have won that sort of [financial] recognition," said the sports minister.
"I have decided that we will give [an additional] 1.5m euros (£1.34m) for Olympic and World Championship preparation and hockey will enjoy a significant share of that.
"The one winner yesterday was the Irish team, they are winners, what they have done for sport, Ireland and women is absolutely unprecedented."
Addressing the players, Ross added: "That shows what great spirit, great endurance and great play can do for yourselves.
"We look forward to you going to the Olympics and on to even greater things. Today is a day for celebration and for thanks to you."
After arriving at Dublin Airport, the Irish team then attended a civic reception at City Hall before attending a public event in front of thousands of people in the city centre.
Dublin's Lord Mayor Nial Ring, who hosted the event, thanked the team for "making us so proud to be Irish".
"This is a historic day, on a historic street. The ladies in this team have made history for themselves, their sport and their country," said the Lord Mayor.
Ireland, the second-lowest ranked of the 16 teams going into the London tournament, shocked the USA, India (twice) and Spain on the way to reaching Sunday's final, where they were hammered 6-0 by the Netherlands.
Prior to Monday's announcement by the minister, Sport Ireland's total funding to Irish hockey was set to be just over £820,000 in 2018.
To draw a comparison, British hockey is receiving more than £17m in the current Olympic cycle, running from 2017 until the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Almost £460,000 of the Irish funding comes from Sport Ireland's high performance unit with Hockey Ireland receiving just over £232,000 to administer the sport.
A further £40,000 comes from Sport Ireland's carding scheme for elite Irish athletes with just over £31,000 coming from the Women in Sport programme in addition to a one-off payment in the region of £53,000 for Ireland's World Cup campaigns in both the men's and women's games this year.
Ex-Ireland rugby skipper Matthews in funding call
Following Sunday's World Cup final, former Irish rugby captain Phillip Matthews joined those who insist the team's run should result in more funding for the sport.
Matthews' daughter Hannah was part of the Irish team at the tournament.
"It's only from things like this that you can kick on and exert political pressure," Matthews said.
"We have got to attract a bit more funding and get more women into playing sport and get more funding into hockey because they've shown with a bit of commitment and passion what you can do.
"It has really stirred emotion back home and the whole journey's been incredible."
The Irish women's team narrowly failed to qualify for the Rio Games two years ago but are expected to move into the top 10 of the world rankings following their World Cup success in London.