By Richard Bright
David Harte, Ireland’s captain, has revealed the heartache behind the Green Machine’s controversial defeat to Canada which scuppered their Olympic tickets.
Harte was ruled out with a late ankle injury as he was forced to sit out the aggregate defeat in Vancouver on Sunday.
The Irishman put out a tweet as the team processed defeat and set about returning home, where the women will hope to beat Canada women this weekend.
As Harte put it to Irish radio station 2fm’s Game On: “Grown men without words, tears rolling down the cheeks. When I put out that tweet, I couldn’t actually get the words out physically, I could only type them.
Hockey careers ended, Olympic dreams shattered & years (& years) of nothing but hard work & dedication from all players diminished… Honestly still can't believe what happened @FIH_Hockey !!! A decision that will carry pain for a lifetime – heartbroken!!
— David Harte (@daveyharte) October 28, 2019
“You have certain senior players hanging up their hockey sticks who won’t wear the green shirt again. That’s really tough to take. Guys who’ve been in the trenches.
“For their careers to finish on a note like that is really harrowing. There is a feeling of numbness. As the hours have gone, there’s a feeling of frustration creeping in as well.”
For several green shirts, Sunday represented their final games for Ireland. Harte, 31, is likely to stay on but says the consequences of defeat will be felt across the sport.
“Personally, I can’t see that being my final memory in a green shirt. For now, I can’t say I’ll be moving along,” he added.
“The knock-on effect that not qualifying will have, and the decision to award that penalty stroke, will have a huge impact on sponsorship. There will be a potential €1 million loss of services and sponsorship so that will have an impact on programmes moving forward.”
Meanwhile Ireland captain Jonathan Bell believes the FIH must clarify the controversy which marred the Olympic play-off.
“Trust in the officials is fundamental to every sport. If the players have no trust in the officials, then the whole fabric of the sport is undermined,” Bell told BBC NI Sport.
“The FIH has a duty to come out, whether it is an apology, a clarification or a route map on how they are going to put this right to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Certainly I will be expecting something like that from the FIH.”
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