Ireland haven’t qualified a field team for the Olympic Games since 1948, when the Irish soccer team competed in London.
This week the Irish men’s hockey team will attempt to bridge that gap when they play the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Dublin. They will be backboned by Corkmen John Jermyn, and twins Conor and David Harte. The brothers tell Brian Hayes Curtin about why they are confident about upsetting the odds and qualifying for London this summer.
It’s quite unusual to find twins playing top-level international sport, but that’s what Ballinspittle men Conor and David Harte do. They are also professional sportsmen, playing hockey in the most competitive league on the world in the Netherlands. This week, they and fellow Corkman John Jermyn, who has just returned from injury, will attempt to help qualify Ireland for this summer’s Olympics.
The Irish team will play world number six Korea, world number 13 Malaysia, 20 ranked Russia and 26 ranked Chile. Ukraine at 29 complete the list alongside Ireland, who lie in the middle at 16 in the world. The challenge for Ireland, then, is steep. Korea is the only men’s team in the top 11 in the world that have failed to qualify thus far. Only the winner of the six-team tournament gains automatic qualification for the Games.
There is great reason for positivity however. This is due to their performance in the European Nations Cup last August, when they finished fifth and beat Spain, ranked the fifth best team in the world. Prior to that, they won a 5 Nations tournament in Paris, beating Korea and 11 ranked Argentina, as well as hosts France.
Corkmen Dave and Conor Harte and Church of Ireland clubman John Jermyn hope to achieve something seismic in Irish sport and become the first Irish field team to qualify for the Olympics in over 50 years. Ireland start the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Dublin from Saturday 10 March at 2.30pm with a game against Russia. www.hockey.ie.