Four Lisnagarvey Hockey Club stars are heading to the Rio Olympics.
Garvey Captain Jonny Bell says his selection to the Irish Men’s squad bound for the Olympic Games later this month is a ‘massive privilege’.
Joining Bell will be Paul Gleghorne, Mikie Watt - who will return to England next season - and veteran Timmy Cockram, who just missed out on the main squad and will be a travelling reserve at the games.
When asked how he was feeling after the news was offically released, Bell said he was ‘pretty good’.
“I sort of knew over the weekend, but to finally see it on paper, it’s a pretty special feeling,” he commented.
“To finally get selected and thankfully get the good news, it’s nice to tell family and friends, teammates, colleagues,
“I think everybody feels ownership of it in supporting you to get there, so they are all delighted.”
Coach Craig Fulton announced his squad on Monday and Bell says it’s an ‘honour’ to be heading to Rio.
“For hockey players it’s the pinnacle (to get to the Olympics). I never dreamt of it,” Bell added. “Hockey and Olympics, I wouldn’t put the two together. It had never been done since 1908. I didn’t dream of it, because I didn’t think it could become a reality.
“Five to ten years ago when I got into the men’s set-up I set it as a dream; to have achieved that and been selected is a massive privilege and an honour.”
However, despite the delight of the 16-man squad, plus three travelling reserves, there were others who just missed out on selection, when the squad was cut from 21 to 16.
“Spare a thought for the guys who didn’t make it,” Bell added. “It has been a squad effort and has been achieved by the hard work of all 28 players.
“Those players helped get the squad to the level it’s at now.
“All players involved can be proud,” he said.
The Ireland team travels to Buenos Aires on 19 July for several matches, before travel ling onto Rio at the end of the month, so there will be plenty of hockey played before the games begin.That will be an important preparation phase and will get us in the best condition possible before we play India in our opener,” Bell stated.