Annadale star reaches 50 Ireland caps ahead of the final qualifying tournament for London 2012 to be held in Dublin

Caruth aiming for Olympics spot

By David Mohan

ANNADALE hockey star Peter Caruth had two reasons to celebrate at the weekend, but is aiming to make it a hat-trick in the coming weeks.

On Saturday, the South Belfast man earned Ireland cap number 50 during the 9-0 demolition of the Czech Republic that acted as a warm-up game for the upcoming Olympics qualifier to be held in Dublin.

In doing so, Caruth became only the fourth Annadale man to reach the half-century, joining David Smyth, Chris Jackson and Iain Lewers in that exclusive club.

“It has taken a long time to get to 50 caps, but it has been very enjoyable anyway,” he said.

“It’s a privilege to get close to the other three boys from the Annadale team and it is certainly a good milestone for me to hit.

“I have been at Annadale since I was four so I think I owe them a lot as so much time, effort and coaching has gone into me so hopefully I have started to give a bit back with the coaching I have done in the club.

“It’s great to see the kids at the club getting excited about the upcoming event so it’s good to see that level of support as well.”

 

Qualifier

The performance against the Czechs also confirmed Peter’s spot in the Irish squad for the six-team qualifier which begins on Saturday at the Hockey National Stadium at UCD.

Ireland open their programme on Saturday with a difficult game against Russia at 2.30pm followed by games against Ukraine on the Sunday (3pm), Korea on Tuesday (6pm), Chile on Thursday (6pm) and Malaysia on St Patrick’s Day at 3pm.

The tournament will be played as a six-team round robin with the top two teams meeting in a final game to determine the Olympic berth on Sunday March 18 at 4pm.

“We have a huge week coming up and it (Olympics) has always been a dream of mine to get there,” stated the Annadale star.

“Hopefully this week we can play to our strengths and if we play with the crowd then hopefully we can reach that milestone.

“We are hoping for a big turn out in the crowd and for them to be going absolutely nuts for us.

“Hopefully it will and hopefully that will affect the other teams, but we are just worrying about what we are going to do, working on our strengths and trying to fulfil our dream of qualifying for the Olympics.”

 

Home support

Caruth is hoping that home support can be the decisive factor in helping push Ireland over the line and earn them their place at London 2012.

While Korea and Malaysia may be ranked higher than the boys in green, Ireland have been playing some fine hockey of late and following a positive showing at the European Championships in Germany last summer, they seem to have continued that impressive form with Saturday’s 9-0 victory over the Czechs.

While some may question the standard of opposition for the final warm-up game, Caruth said the result was more to do with Ireland’s quality and he is hoping this is a sign they are on the cusp of achieving something special.

“There are no easy teams. Russia is a very good side; South Korea are very quick and powerful and the Malaysians are also a very good team,” he admitted.

“We are ranked third going into that tournament but hopefully by the end we will be top of those rankings.

“There are a lot of challenges ahead of us but hopefully we can come through them.

“Playing the Czechs in a warm-up at the weekend was great preparation as they are a good side.

“Some people may say they aren’t but I beg to differ because they are a good side but we are playing some really good hockey at the moment and very stylish hockey.

“At the weekend we were able to finish our chances so hopefully the boys can carry that form into this weekend’s qualifiers and that can carry us through.”

 

Goal

Olympic qualification is the goal of every sportsperson and Peter Caruth is no different in that regard.

Should Ireland’s men book their place in London, he said it would be the realisation of a lifetime ambition but said that while this would be great, Olympic glory would be even better.

“If it were to happen (qualification) it would be the highlight of my life and the pinnacle of my career.

“Hopefully if we get to that stage we can do something in the Olympics as well as a medal would look very nice sitting in the house.”

 

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