DAVID Harte hopes the exploits of the Irish women’s hockey team will inspire their male counterparts to their own World Cup heroics later this year.
Ireland men’s hockey goalkeeper and captain, Harte, cheered on the Irish women’s team in their stunning run to the World Cup final in London.
The Netherlands proved a class apart in last Sunday’s final but that won’t take away from Ireland’s amazing achievement of winning World Cup silver medals.
‘This has been huge. They’ve been on TV, in newspapers, all over social media, it’s been incredible exposure for the game,’ Harte said.
‘They went over to London and wanted to leave a lasting legacy and they have certainly done that – they are the first Irish team to qualify for a World Cup final and they’ve won the silver medal.
‘That can help inspire the next generation and hopefully hockey in Ireland will reap the benefits of this for weeks, months and years to come.’
Among those the Irish women’s team will inspire is the country’s men’s team who themselves put Irish hockey on the map when qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Rio. This winter they will compete at the World Cup in Bhubaneswar, India, and they’ll hope to emulate the women’s heroics.
‘We can take a lot of inspiration and positives from this,’ Harte said.
‘The World Cup is quite open but I would say from the men’s side when it comes to rankings, it’s a bit more definite and set in its ways, there are less upsets than you would see in the women’s game.
‘But from seeing what they have achieved, there’ll be a little bit of jealousy and hopefully it will get the lads’ minds thinking of driving on when it comes to the World Cup in India in December and hopefully it will be our turn to shine on the world stage.’
There is also a link between the West Cork man, who was twice named the best goalkeeper in the world, and Irish women’s goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran who was named Goalkeeper of the Tournament – they share the same goalkeeping coach, Nigel Henderson.
‘He gets you thinking outside the box, showing you what goalkeepers in other sports like ice hockey do, he’s always learning, always looking for those extra inches to make the difference,’ said Harte who is enjoying the summer off after another successful season with his club SV Kampong in The Netherlands.
‘We won back to back league titles and had a tremendous season,’ he said.
‘Last year was our first time winning the Dutch championship in 32 years so winning it again is fantastic, and we did it in front of our home crowd which was special.
‘We went to play a European semi-final and final the following weekend, we got into the final but didn’t win – but if someone had told me at the start of the season that we’d be Dutch champions again and the second best team in Europe, I’d have taken it.’
When his batteries are recharged, he’ll be back at full steam and will be ready for the World Cup later this year, and games in Group 2 against Australia, England and China.