Erica Markey’s rise to the forefront of Trinity’s eclectic sports scene has been rapid, but far from surprising. This becomes apparent as soon as one takes a closer look at her upbringing. When quizzed about how she got into sport, the newly inducted sports scholar remarks that she started playing hockey when she was “about six.” Obviously talented, Markey had caught the athletic bug and tried her hand at basketball, GAA, tennis and sailing. While most six year olds were watching Spongebob Squarepants and taking part in the occasional game of Swingball, Markey, it seems, had other ideas.
Her love of sport continued into secondary school, although at this point in life she began to focus exclusively on hockey. “I just didn’t have time for all the rest,” she admits, reminiscing. This decision would reap dividends for the young athlete as once it was made it didn’t take too long for her to find herself in the big leagues: “From the age of 15 I took part in lots of Leinster hockey development, and while in sixth year I was selected for the Leinster Under 21 team.”
“This is a very exciting time for women in sport as there are more opportunities to excel and to be seen excelling”
Markey’s stock continued to rise, and at the end of the interprovincial tournament she was selected for the Irish U21 development squad. To have such an extensive sporting CV at such a young age is something which would provide a worthy excuse for arrogance, but Markey’s evident modesty when she speaks about the reasons for her success is almost as impressive as her achievements: “I was really fortunate to have some amazing coaches in my club Suttonians, who really helped me to develop my skills and love of the sport.” There are no braggadocious statements of raw natural talent or self-forged success to be found here. Instead, just obvious gratitude.
That same modesty has obviously manifested itself in the form of an enviable work ethic for Markey. Undoubtedly, such qualities along with her abilities are what landed the young athlete on the plane to Valencia for the Junior European Championships this summer. This is something Markey is rightfully proud of: “The selection this year was one of the toughest yet so I was really delighted to be involved.” What followed was an apparently gruelling, albeit rewarding schedule: “In order to prepare for this tournament, we travelled to Barcelona in October to play a friendly series. We then continued to train with each other once a month in addition to a gym and fitness schedule.” Alongside this rigorous preparation regime was a trip to Alicante to play against Great Britain, and a Four Nations tournament with Scotland, Canada and India. The latter games in particular were “key to our preparations,” Markey remarks.
“We have some exciting new players coming in which I am sure will only add to the wonderful team from last year”
The tournament itself posed new challenges, one of which was the warm weather. In order to acclimatise the group travelled to Alicante. Another major obstacle was Ireland’s group stage opponents. The Netherlands were ranked number 1 in the world at the time and France had many players who were also involved with the country’s senior squad. As such, Markey remembers that the team were targeting their opener against Russia as a winnable game. Unfortunately, they ended up losing the game 1 nil, something which Markey believes had a “big impact on our final position.” Although the tournament ended in disappointment for Markey and her teammates, there were plenty of positives: “We came away with some extremely good performances. We were the first Irish U21 team to win a match in the A division in 15 years, and the first ever to win two consecutive matches at this level.” Reflecting on the summer, Markey notes: “We are also hopeful that there is a possibility that we have qualified for the Junior World Cup in two year’s time.” In any case, Markey’s experience from the outside looking in is somewhat life changing, and playing at such a high level will undoubtedly benefit Trinity for the remainder of her time here.
The College’s star player seems to think as much: “I am extremely excited for the year ahead. We had a great season last year and we hope to be better this year by retaining our Leinster Division One Title and getting promoted to the all Ireland (EYHL) League.” Markey also astutely recognises that success will not be down to the players alone, but also to the coaching staff: “We are fortunate with the appointment of Dave Fitzgerald as the new high performance director for hockey in Trinity Sport. He will be a great asset in helping us develop throughout the year. Myself and Issy Delamer’s jobs as captains will also be made much easier as our coach Brian Scully is remaining with us.” Lastly, Markey seems eager to meet the new recruits that can help bolster the squad: “We have some exciting new players coming in which I am sure will only add to the wonderful team from last year.” All in all, it seems as though the Ladies Hockey Team are finely positioned for another successful season.
Given the newfound prominence and long awaited recognition of female athletes such as Katie Taylor, Megan Rapinoe and Ada Hegerberg, I decided to ask Markey how she felt about the future of women’s sport. Her answer was refreshingly optimistic: “This is a very exciting time for women in sport as there are more opportunities to excel and to be seen excelling. With initiatives such as the 20×20 programme, young girls are being inspired to keep playing sport throughout their teens and into adulthood.” For women taking part in sport across the country, the continued rise of young flag bearers such as Markey can only lead to good things.
She is undoubtedly one to watch out for in the foreseeable future, and is shaping up to be a role model for female athletes in Ireland and beyond.