Irish Captain, Linda Caulfield, has made the decision to draw a line under her international hockey career after amassing 151 caps and wearing the green shirt for nine years.

Caulfield commented earlier on what has obviously been a difficult decision to make “There is a huge demand on players to increase their time on the pitch and the intensity of their training as we compete at the highest level against semi-pro teams. It is excellent to see players committing more time to training, as it is the only way we will enter the top 12 in the world, however, it is very difficult to commit to the training schedule along with the demands of work.  I have reached a point where I can no longer manage to do both at 100% so unfortunately something has to give”.

On a lighter note she quipped “If I was a second hand car you wouldn't buy me, the mileage is too high!”

Caulfield displays a distinguished international hockey playing career, breaking into her first international squad at the tender age of fourteen when she pulled on a green jersey for the Irish U16’s before representing Ireland at U18, U21 and finally Senior Level.  Linda was also ever present on the South East Interprovincial teams at U16; U18 & U21 level before going on to represent Leinster at senior level.

Caulfield’s international career was not all plain sailing and she received a massive blow when she was dropped from the Irish U21’s squad. But testament to her strength of character and determination, Caulfield picked herself up training harder than ever and within four months she was back in the squad, but this time it was on the Senior Irish Squad.

Linda earned her first of many caps under Coach Riet Kuper aged 20 against Russia in 1999 in the right back position, she went on to be a regular name on the team sheet and three years later earned her first of many milestones when she lined up against England to collect her 50th cap.  Linda was fast becoming a stalwart of the Irish team and moved into playing midfield, her commitment and passion for the game was evident both on and off the field and she duly clocked up her 100th Cap against China in 2005.

Caulfield also managed to distinguish herself when she was honoured with The Irish Times Sportswoman of the Month Award in 2004, no mean feat, when you consider this was the first time a hockey player had been accredited with this award.

When Irish Captain, Lindsey McVicker, retired from the game in 2005, Linda was the obvious choice to step up and take over the captaincy for her country, an honour she was only to pleased to accept. Since then Linda has led Ireland through numerous internationals including the world cup qualifiers in Rome, The inaugural Setanta Sports Trophy and most recently the EuroHockey Nations Championship where she earned her 150th Cap against the Ukraine on 23rd August 2007.

In a more reflective mood Caulfield reminisces over her international career “My years of Irish senior hockey have been an incredible experience.  I have laughed, cried, had moments of sheer exhilaration and real disappointments, but one thing is for sure, it was all character building.  Although I am finished with International hockey now, I have memories and moments that will last a life time.  I will miss the girls terribly and would like to wish them, Gene and all the management, all the very best for the Olympic Qualifiers.  I will be behind them every step of the way.”

Caulfield also recognises the support she has received “I owe a personal thank you to my family, friends and my work colleagues in Servier Laboratories, for all their support.  Without their support I would have been unable to commit for the past 9 years. No words can quite express how appreciative I am to them.  I would like to also mention the Irish Sports Council and the ESB for their fantastic financial support and the IHA for their continued support year in year out.”

Coach Gene Muller will no doubt miss Caulfield’s presence on the pitch "It is always a significant event for a national program when an experienced senior player retires and more so the captain. Linda was great servant of Irish hockey.  She is a fierce competitor and a fantastic role model. I have only coached her for a year, but in that short time I grew to respect her presence, dedication and ability.  I am pleased that so many of the younger players got the opportunity to play in the same national team as her.”

Caulfield will continue her hockey career at club level playing for Dublin team Hermes with whom she has experienced great success in the past.

John Dennis, Chairman of the IHA upon hearing the news commented “On behalf of the IHA, I would like to thank Linda for the huge commitment she made to Irish hockey over the past number of years. Linda has always displayed passion, talent and commitment to the game especially for her country. She will be missed not only by the Association but also by her fans and team mates.”

“We wish her all the best in her future career and look forward to seeing her play for her club in the forthcoming season.” he continued

Source: Irish Hockey Association