Mitch Darling in action for Ireland against Korea in June. Picture: Adrian Boehm

A TRIO of former Wesley College students Mitch Darling, Kyle Good and Kirk Shimmins were all named in the Irish hockey squad for the Olympic Games on Monday morning.
It means they will be part of an historic first appearance for Ireland in a team sport since 1948 while a representative from this island dates all the way back to 1908.
For Darling, he will be part of a long-standing Olympic connection from Three Rock Rovers hockey club in Rathfarnham. The club had five members of the squad that won a silver medal in London in 1908 including Henry Brown, Walter Campbell, Richard Gregg, Henry Murphy and Charles Power.
In 1964, the club’s David Judge – capped 124 times for Ireland – was eligible to play for Great Britain and lined out at the Tokyo Games.
Darling – along with Good who now plays for Monkstown – both came up through the youth system at Three Rock, playing at each level of underage international competition.
Shimmins, meanwhile, has been nurtured at the Pembroke club in Ballsbridge in tandem with a couple of seasons where he was on scholarship with UCD.
All three Wesley old boys played key roles in aiding the Irish team’s incredible exploits last summer at the World League semi-finals in Antwerp, beating higher ranked Pakistan and Malaysia to reach the Games.
A bronze medal followed at the European Championships last August. Since the turn of the year, the enlarged panel saw players jockey for position in the final Olympic squad with final confirmation coming through this week.
From a Three Rock perspective, club president John Findlater was one of Darling’s youth coaches and he said this was a hugely proud moment for the club.
“All at the club are delighted for Mitch on his selection. He is a superb example of what can be achieved with dedication and commitment, being relentless and obsessed to be the best you can be.”
He also paid tribute to the efforts of goalkeeper Jamie Carr who was the third choice goalkeeper, just missing out on selection.
“These guys give so much back to their sport, too; just last week, Mitch handed out the Irish kit to the national Under-16 side, creating a link to the next generation. Jamie is already inspiring young goalkeepers in the club which is great to see.
“In my lifetime, Olympic hockey used to be a dream; now it is a reality. We wish the Irish team success in Rio and expect them to build on their current world ranking.
“With this in mind, we want to take this opportunity to grow Leinster hockey and produce an Olympic dividend.”
To this end, the club is running a fan zone in their Grange Road clubhouse on match days with the first on August 6 for the opening game against India with tip off at 3pm.