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Record breaker Eugene Magee to retire after Ireland's Tokyo Olympic bid as he targets 300 caps

 

Decision time: Eugene Magee
Decision time: Eugene Magee

By John Flack

Eugene Magee has announced he is to retire from international hockey after next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo - assuming Ireland qualify.

The Banbridge star has amassed a staggering 285 appearances for his country, making him the country's most capped player.

Whether he can make more history by becoming the first Irish man to break the 300 barrier will depend on whether Ireland can book their tickets to Tokyo.

He could have made it to around 295 had he been available for the European Championship in Antwerp next month and the build-up games before the trip.

Magee has had to juggle his work commitments with a Belfast IT firm and the huge commitment that goes into international hockey these days.

So, he reluctantly decided to pull out of the European trip, understandably putting the chance to call time on his career after competing at an Olympic Games higher up the pecking order.

After the Euros, Ireland face a two-legged tie - almost certainly away from home - which, if they win, would see them qualify for a second consecutive Olympics.

If Ireland fail to make it, then Magee, who played in Rio in 2016, will hang up his stick after the final eliminator and fall a few caps short of joining the 300-club.

He said: "I'll be 34 when the Olympics come around and it would be an amazing way to bow out of international hockey, but we have to get to Tokyo first and that won't be easy."

"It's unfortunate that I can't make the Europeans but I simply can't get time off work to play in Antwerp and the Olympic qualifiers and, hopefully, the Games themselves if all goes to plan.

"It was a case of one or the other and not both so getting the chance to play in second Olympic Games was the obvious decision to make."

Ireland continue their preparations for the Europeans early next month when they take part in a prestigious Four Nations tournament in Barcelona along with England, Malaysia and their Spanish hosts.

Meanwhile, Ireland's Under-16 and 18 girls finished their trip to Perth yesterday with two wins over their Scottish counterparts as they prepare for their respective Six Nations events in Eindhoven later this month.

Rainey's Charlotte Beggs, Nicola Torrans (2), KJ Marshall and Leah Clery scored in the U-16s' 5-0 win.

Zoe Kilpatrick and Robin McLaughlin were on the mark for the U-18s in their 2-1 victory as Ireland won both series 2-0.

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