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Injury rules keeper Harte out of Euro duty

 

Huge loss: David Harte
Huge loss: David Harte

By John Flack

David Harte has lost his fitness battle and has been ruled out of the Ireland squad for the European Championships which begins later this week in Antwerp.

It's a huge blow for the team and the 31-year-old Kinsale man, who was twice voted International Hockey Federation world goalkeeper of the year.

Harte had been struggling to shake off an inflamed muscle injury but was given time to recover in case he was able to prove his fitness ahead of the showpiece, which starts for Ireland on Saturday when they take on Netherlands.

However, the 222-times capped Munster man, who plays his club hockey for former European champions KV Kampong, has lost his race against the clock.

A vastly experienced player, Harte captained Ireland at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and at the World Cup in India last November.

Jamie Carr and Mark Ingram, who play for clubs in Belgium and Holland respectively, are likely to take over the goalkeeping duties in Antwerp on a tandem basis.

In Harte's absence, it seems certain that Lisnagarvey defender Jonny Bell will continue as captain for the Euros in which Ireland also face Scotland and Germany initially before entering the classification phase.

Bell said: "It is disappointing for Dave to miss out and clearly a big loss to the team."

"He leaves big shoes to fill but we are fortunate to have a pool of quality keepers, any one of whom can step in and perform.

"They have all been around the squad for a long time and are very familiar with our set-up.

"They should fit in seamlessly and are more than capable of excelling at this level."

To back up Bell's theory, Carr was named goalkeeper-of-the-tournament at last week's Four Nations event in Barcelona, which rounded off the competitive element of the build up to the Antwerp trip.

However, Harte should have made a full recovery in good time for the Olympic qualifiers which are scheduled for the end of October or early November.

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