David Harte added yet another incredible achievement to his already huge list of accolades as he became the first Irish player to win the Euro Hockey League, the world’s biggest club hockey competition.
He kept a clean sheet for Dutch side SV Kampong in a 2-0 win over AH&BC Amsterdam in Barcelona in the final. It adds to a 12-month period in which he has won the world Goalkeeper of the Year award as well as captaining Ireland to Olympic qualification and a maiden European Championships medal last August.
When asked about his epic year, he said: “I’m lost for words. When you put it like that, it’s something I hadn’t thought about.”
For Kampong, he stood tall to keep out a number of chances to frustrate Amsterdam in game of few chances, notably keeping out Mirco Pruyser before Quirijn Caspers and Bjorn Kellerman won the game in the second half for the Utrecht club.
Speaking about his performances, Kampong coach Alex Cox said of Harte: “For us, he is massively important. He is a goalie who wins games for us and never loses them for us. He wins games over and over for us and is one of our key players!”
Harte, meanwhile, said he was in “dreamland”, adding “the fact it happened, the gold medal around my neck, it’s an incredible feeling”.
It ends a run of near misses for Kampong, reaching the Dutch final last season before bowing out at the semi-final stage of this year’s competition at the semi-final stage in contentious fashion to Amsterdam.
That may have played some part in their motivation in the EHL final and they looked the smarter team for the most part.
“You could say loads of different things helped get us over the line but the fact this side has been together a number of years, has a lot more experience playing bigger matches which has helped us big time.
“We made the step last year to the Dutch playoff finals and this is now the furthest we have gone in this competition. Going on to win it, it’s unbelievable. As a group, we are just adding to our power.”
He has little time to savour the moment, though, as he links back up with the Irish panel later this week.
“It’s only what dreams are made of and now the next months are all focussed on Rio with Ireland and that’s also an exciting phase.”