AT the ‘heart’ of Ireland’s Olympic hockey campaign in Brazil are two brothers with strong Carrickmore and Tyrone connections.
Twenty eight-year-old towering, blonde twins Conor and David Harte have played all four of Ireland’s games so far this week in Rio De Janeiro.
While brought up in Kinsale, County Cork their father Kieran was the goalkeeper with the Tyrone senior football team that reached the Ulster Final in 1972. Kieran is also a cousin of decorated Tyrone GAA manager Mickey Harte.
The 6ft 5 inch brothers both made their senior international debuts together in 2006 against France when aged only 18.
A decade on they both are now closing in on earning 200 caps each for their country.
Ireland’s captain and goalkeeper David Harte is the side’s star man, winning the 2015 FIH World Goalkeeper of the Year following an amazing year in which he won goalkeeper of the tournament at both the World League Round 3 and the European Championships.
He was the first Irish man to win an award of this kind.
Conor is described as a formidable sweeper with excellent concentration in the tackle and great vision to spray powerful passes from the back, either along the ground or via the aerial route.
Although they are both qualified teachers, David in PE and biology, Conor in business studies and accounting, they are professional hockey players.
Conor plays with the Royal Racing Club de Bruxelles in Belgium and David is with SV Kampong in the Netherlands.
They have been facing familiar opponents and club team-mates in Rio this week as Ireland play their first Olympic hockey tournament in over a century, last appearing when the sport made its debut at the London Games in 1908.
So far the Ireland team has come up against two of the top three ranked countries in the world suffering two 3-2 defeats to reigning Olympic champions Germany and India while also losing to the Netherlands 5-0.
The men in green defeated Canada 4-2 yesterday and need to defeat Argentina later today to reach the last eight.
It is understood some of the Harte brothers family from Tyrone are over cheering them on from the sun-baked sidelines in Rio.
At home their Olympic appearance for Ireland is being proudly supported in Carrickmore, where their grandfather Michael ran the towns pharmacy for many decades.
Local MLA and Carrickmore native, Barry McElduff said, “The Harte family are highly respected in Carrickmore with Michael and Mary running the Pharmacy in Main Street for many years.
“They are clearly a very talented sporting family and I remember watching Kieran play in goals for Carrickmore in the 70’s and played football myself with his brother Colm.
“It’s certainly a talking point to see these lads – whose father and family come from Carrickmore – represent Ireland on the ultimate international sporting arena.
“I am sure the Carrickmore football team and Eire Og’s Hurling Club would have enjoyed having these two good athletes in their ranks.”
Posted: 10:02 am August 12, 2016