Irish captain David Harte says it’s a “very special feeling” to be named on the shortlist for world hockey’s goalkeeper of the year award following another memorable year.
The Kinsale man won the FIH award last year following his superb exploits as the green machine qualified for the Olympics for the first time. 2016 saw that hard work come to fruition with Harte captaining the side in Rio after a 108-year wait.
And his performances there primarily – in addition to helping his Dutch club SV Kampong to the Euro Hockey League title – saw him placed on the list of five potential winners of the prize.
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Speaking to The Hook about being placed on the shortlist, he said: “To be nominated again is a very special feeling on the back of what was a historic year for Hockey Ireland and the men’s team playing in Rio. I am of course very proud and know the quality of the other four keepers nominated is so high. It’s an honour to be nominated amongst such fellow keepers!”
Harte is on the list alongside Belgium’s Vincent Vanasch, Argentina’s Juan Vivaldi, India’s PR Sreejesh and the Netherlands’ Jaap Stockmann.
Since the Olympics, Kampong have had a slow start to the Dutch Hoofdklasse, sitting seventh at the halfway stage of the campaign but they did beat reigning champions HC Oranje-Rood on Sunday 2-1.
It was a similar story to last term when they were well off the pace before a brilliant second half to the season saw them reach the playoffs. They also have the EHL KO16 to look forward to and a third tie in the last few years against Rot Weiss Köln.
It is one of the highlights of next Easter’s EHL competition in Eindhoven and Harte cannot wait for it.
“The game is going to be a cracker! Of course it’s a tough draw but equally so for both sides. We know the quality they have as German champions with such a blend of youth and experience. It’s a match I know we are all really looking forward to!
“Last year’s 5-1 victory in Amsterdam [against Rot Weiss] was probably one of our most compete team performances of our season. Negating their strengths and playing our game plan was crucial.
“Having played them in our first EHL campaign in Lille in 2013 also makes this tie a bit more special given the history between the two teams in this competition. We know it will be an incredibly high-quality match and hopefully one the crowd in Eindhoven will really enjoy!”