** This article originally appeared in the Dun Laoghaire Gazette
Kyle Good – along with several Monkstown club mates – moved a step closer to the Olympic dream in the small hours of Sunday morning last week as the national team had their place confirmed for Rio 2016.
They will compete at the Games for the first time in 1908 in the sport as a result of Australia’s 3-2 win over New Zealand in the Oceania Cup final. The result had the knock-on effect of moving Ireland up the World League ranking list and into the qualification slot.Good has been a key player this summer for the national team and he described the feeling of watching Ireland’s fate unfold 12 time zones away as “just a magic, magic moment!”
The side watched the game as a group in the BBC offices in Belfast where the broadcaster filmed their efforts. It followed a surreal day for the panel as they attempted to keep their nerves in check.
“It was all a bit bizarre. We trained in the morning with no one really talking about the match [between Australia and New Zealand]. BBC treated us to go and see the Belfast Giants. From dinner onwards to tip off, it started to hit home what was about to happen.
“The excitement started building for some; the nerves for others. It was interesting to see how people handle it in different ways.”
Australia got off to a flyer but then proceeded to be on the back foot as New Zealand made all the running.
“When the two early goals went in, we were hoping for two more straightway which would have been ideal. Australia started to chuck the ball away. New Zealand should have definitely had a penalty corner and Australia went straight up the pitch and that should have killed it off.
“When Trent Mitton missed a chance from point-blank range when it was harder to miss than score, a few of us looked at each other and said ‘don’t let it be one of those days’ and be looking back at that miss.”
But Australia held on for the 3-2 result, kick-starting huge celebrations for the Irish camp.
For Good, the moment was especially sweet. He had initially been left out of the panel in February for the first phase of the Olympic qualifying process in the US.
From there, he forced his way back in and scored a crucial opening goal in the 4-1 win victory over Malaysia in July that, in the final reckoning, proved the key result.
“Missing out on San Diego was tough to take; you always want to be part of the panel, especially when you know what is at stake. But I made personal goals to make sure I got back into that team, trained hard, got fitter and stronger. Thankfully I got back in it. It’s been a seriously special year for Irish hockey. My favourite moments have been made this summer.”