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Platt holding out for Olympic dream

By Graham Hamilton

Uslter Hockey's executive manager Angela Platt would dearly love to see either the Irish men or women, or preferably both, reach the 2016 Rio Olympics – because it would help her immensely in her bid to increase participation levels in the province to 18,000.

The former international goalkeeper still vividly recalls how much of an impact Great Britain's bronze medal success in Los Angeles and gold medal success in Seoul rubbed off on the sport here, especially with Stephen Martin and Billy McConnell in the 1984 squad and Stephen Martin and Jimmy Kirkwood in 1988.

"Those lads became heroes and role models for young aspiring players here, and you can imagine the substantial interest here if an Irish team reached Rio, especially with so many Ulster players in their ranks" she said.

"The advent of artificial playing surfaces, the upgrading of facilities, the absence of offside, the changing of the obstruction rule, and the introduction of roll-on roll-off substitutions has turned the game into a fast-flowing, very entertaining and often high-scoring game.

"In fact hockey was the THIRD most-watched sport in the London Olympics.

"And the fact BBC showed many of the recent European championship games on the red-button, and Eurosport also showed numerous games, is showcasing it to a wider public.

"Oh for an Irish team to reach Rio and we'll break the 18,000 barrier no problem!"

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