THE world’s best hockey goalkeeper is urging Cork sports fans to turn out in big numbers for Ireland’s international double-header against European champions The Netherlands at the Mardkye Arena next week.
Before flying out to a pre-Olympic training camp in Argentina later this month, Ireland host the world number two team on Monday, July 4th and Wednesday, July 6th, and Irish goalkeeper and Kinsale native David Harte has called on the Cork sporting public to give the Green Machine the perfect send-off ahead of the Olympics.
Net-minder David, named international hockey goalkeeper of the year for 2015, and his twin brother Conor are currently competing with Ireland at the 6 Nations Tournament in Valencia, and both are expected to be named in coach Craig Fulton’s 18-man panel for Rio, which will be announced on July 10th.
‘This is our last time training and playing in Ireland before the Olympics so this is a chance for avid sports fans from all sports backgrounds to come out and see some real world-class sport being played in our backyard here in Cork. When you consider that we are the only Irish team qualified for the Olympic Games, it would be great to get a big crowd at the Mardyke to watch the games and meet the team,’ David told The Southern Star from Valencia this week.
‘When you consider that there are three of us from Cork still in the selection shake-up for the Olympics, we’re all looking forward to the games on home soil. As well as that, these games will be a huge boost to hockey in Munster because they will be the first international games held in Cork since 2008.
‘Fans will be treated to top-class hockey too because these two matches are against the world number two team, the current European championship winners and the team that won the silver medal in the 2012 Olympics, so it’s going to be a fantastic occasion.’
The former Bandon Grammar school duo and Courcey Rovers’ hurlers played key roles in the Green Machine becoming the first Irish sports team to qualify for an Olympics since 1948.
They are currently in action in Valencia this week where Ireland play four of the world’s top ten teams – Germany (3), India (6), Argentina (7) and New Zealand (8) – as well as Spain (11). Ireland are currently ranked number 12 in the world.
‘Three of these teams are in our pool for the Olympics so when you factor that in, plus the high temperatures, this is ideal preparation for us,’ David Harte explained.
The two games at the Mardyke next Monday and Wednesday come ahead of the Irish squad announcement so there’s a lot at stake for the Irish players. The Olympic squad will depart for Argentina on July 19th for a training camp, before moving on to Rio and the Olympics at the end of July.
Ireland have been drawn in Pool B at the Olympics where they play India (August 6th), The Netherlands (August 7th), Germany (August 9th), Canada (August 11th) and Argentina (August 12th).
Both games between Ireland and The Netherlands start at 7pm at the Mardyke with tickets available on the gate (adults €15, kids €5) or check out store.hockey.ie for more details.