After the Green Machine qualified for the Olympics for the first time since 1908 and followed up that success with a maiden European championships bronze medal in London, the award nominations began to flow.
Key midfielder Shane O’Donoghue is one of five nominees for the International Hockey Federation’s (FIH) world rising star of the year award, while skipper David Harte is up for goalkeeper of the year, both of which will be decided by online public voting, which is open until January 26.
Both men have cited their overseas experience as crucial to their development into world-class performers. Cork native Harte is a mainstay at Kampong, one of Holland’s top clubs. They’re on a winter break so Harte, along with many of the world’s top players, is India-bound where he plays for Dabang Mumbai in the Hockey India League, the sport’s richest competition.
Tallaght native O’Donoghue lines out for KHC Dragons in Belgium, and he says the experience of playing and training alongside the world’s best has helped the 23-year-old, who already has over 80 caps, become a mainstay of the national side.
“I took it upon myself to become one of the key players in the team, using the confidence of being a key player with a big club team in Europe to get there,” he told The Hook.
Ireland are ratcheting up their preparations for this summer’s Games in Rio with 16 days of warm weather training in South Africa. Craig Fulton has taken 25 players to Cape Town for a stint which will include eight games in 11 days against Spain, Belgium and Canada; Harte is the only absentee due to his commitments in India.
Normal service resumes in the Munster leagues this week after the Christmas break, though the EY Hockey League continues its winter break until the month’s end.
: J Bell (Lisnagarvey), M Bell (Banbridge), J Bruton (Monkstown), D Carlisle (Banbridge), P Caruth (Monkstown), J Carr (GK, Three Rock Rovers), C Cargo (Racing Club de Bruxelles), T Cockram (Lisnagarvey), S Cole (Monkstown), L Cole (Monkstown), M Darling (Rotterdam), S Loughrey (Hampstead and Westminster), P Gleghorne (Lisnagarvey), K Good (Monkstown), R Gormley (Krefeld), C Harte (Racing Club de Bruxelles), J Jackson (Reading), A Sothern (Pembroke), E Magee (Banbridge), S O’Donoghue (Dragons), M Robson (Annadale), M Watt (Lisnagarvey), K Shimmins (Pembroke), D Fitzgerald (GK, Monkstown), G Watkins (Monkstown).
- See Digest for Fixtures