'I have been very lucky': Bangor's Chris Cargo retires from international hockey but predicts bright Ireland future
Bangor's Chris Cargo has predicted a bright future for Irish Hockey as he announces his international retirement.
The 33-year-old, who now plays in England for Hampstead & Westminster, says he expects both the men's and women's teams to reach plenty more Olympic Games in the future.
He's one of the lucky ones in Ireland's hockey history - and he knows it.
Cargo played five games at the Rio Olympics in 2016, the first time an Irish side had qualified for the games in more than 100 years.
Four years on and the women's team have followed suit, while Cargo and his team-mates were denied a spot in Tokyo in now infamous circumstances as a contentious last gasp video umpire decision allowed Canada to take the Olympic spot on penalties.
"Irish hockey is in rude health with the ladies representing us in Tokyo next summer and I believe that the correct support for both teams will mean that we will see both in Paris and for many more Olympics to come," he said.
Despite his final cap heartache, Cargo knows he can look back at a career most can only dream of, with 195 caps, two as captain, 77 wins, 28 goals and a European bronze medal to hold dear.
“I have loved wearing the green shirt for 10 years in countries all over the world and making history with this group,” he reflected.
"I have been very lucky to have been playing in an Irish shirt during a period when, in my opinion, some of the best players in Irish history were playing alongside me.
"It was an amazing journey and I was lucky enough to forge some enduring friendships, whilst making history with this team and having a great laugh along the way. There have been many low points on the journey, but they make the successes so much sweeter."
Cargo made his Ireland debut in the Celtic Cup in 2009 aged 23, scoring in a 3-1 win over France in Edinburgh.
"I had given up on that dream so I will always be truly grateful to Paul Revington (then coach) for giving me that chance and changing my life," he continued.
"He made me, and the whole group, believe that we could make history and instilled in us a huge drive and determination. To Ned (Craig Fulton - caoch 2014 to 2018), (thank you) for galvanising the team after the disappointment of 2012 (Olympic qualifying defeat to South Korea).
"Finally, to (Mark Tumilty - coach for recent Olympic play-off) for coming in and making this group enjoy their hockey again."
Cargo came through the ranks at Bangor Grammar and played for his hometown club before moving to England, where he has represented Team Bath and Reading as well as his current club. He has also played for Racing Bruxelles in Belgium.
Belfast Telegraph Digital