Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Irwin announces his retirement

After 130 caps and 36 goals, Mark Irwin has become the fourth retirement from the Irish hockey set-up since the Olympic qulaifiers.

The 31 year-old Instonians striker calls it a day along with Andy Barbour, Jason Black and Paddy Brown as Ireland have a year and a half away from major competition.

Irwin explains his reasons for stepping off the international stage “It has always been my dream to play in the Olympic Games. Like the rest squad I gave everything possible to make that dream a reality and was bitterly disappointed to miss out.

"Given the natural break in the international competition calendar I believe that now is the right time to call an end to my international career. There is a wealth of young talent coming through the system and it is essential that they are given the opportunity to experience hockey at the highest level while they have the time and energy to put that experience to good use.”

Talking about the highlights of his career one particular moment seemed to stand out “It has been an enormous pleasure and privilege to represent my country but the highlight for me personally was being given the captain’s armband during the summer of 2006 – leading your country is an honour that very few people in any sport achieve and I will treasure the memory for the rest of my life.”

Irwin who has been on the international scene the longest out of any of the current senior squad, 12 years and looking to the future, Irwin is optimistic for Irish hockey “I believe that the next few years are critical for Irish hockey. The raw talent, enthusiasm and hunger is there in abundance.

"In return for their total commitment the players deserve a set-up that gives them the best possible chance to succeed. Much has already been done but it is incumbent on all the stakeholders in Irish hockey to make sure that we provide our athletes with the opportunity to realise their full potential.”

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