These identical blonde, blue-eyed giants were spotted pounding the West Cork roads over Christmas and the New Year: meet the Harte twins, the only Cork players on the Olympics-bound Irish Senior Men’s Hockey Team.
It’s been 108 years since an Irish hockey team made the cut for the Olympic Games.
And although the 6’ 5” twins, both successful international hockey players, flew home to celebrate Christmas in Kinsale, they didn’t waste much time feasting.
“We spent Christmas training,” admits David, who’s based in Holland.
He said the twins’ alma mater, Bandon Grammar School, had offered them the use of the school hockey pitch.
The 27-year-old brothers, who are identical, also worked out in a local gym on Christmas Eve and pounded the roads around Kinsale on St Stephen’s Day and into the New Year.
Yesterday, Conor, who lives in Brussels, flew out to South Africa for two weeks’ warm weather training with the Irish Senior Men’s Hockey Team.
David is due to fly out to India to compete in the prestigious Hockey India League after which he will re-join the Irish team in February for a series of training sessions: David as captain and goalkeeper Conor in his role as central defender.
“This is the beginning — we’re on the road to Rio as of now,” says Conor who, along with David, started playing hockey at the age of 12, when the brothers were enrolled in Bandon Grammar School.
They received their first Caps for Ireland in 2006.
Although they are both qualified teachers, David in PE and biology, Conor in business studies and accounting, they are professional hockey players.
Conor plays with the Royal Racing Club de Bruxelles and David is with SV Kampong.
“We barely missed out on qualifying for the 2012 London Olympics, so it’s truly one of the greatest feelings we’ve ever had in our sporting career, to have qualified for Rio.
“People say that competing in the Olympic Games is the pinnacle of any athletes career — for us it’s even more thrilling as no Irish hockey team has made it to the Olympics for 108 years,” said Conor.
He pointed out the team has no sponsorship and for several years the Irish Senior Men’s Hockey Team had to be self-sufficient to an extent because of that.
“The Irish team has really had to do this the hard way compared to the privileges enjoyed by the full time professional international teams we play against.
“We quite literally have to pay to play for Ireland.
“There are numerous players on our team who have had to take unpaid leave to play on the Irish team to get us to where we are now, on the road to Rio.
“We’re hoping that we’ll get the sponsorship and funding we need to get to Rio and beyond.”
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