Rio dream for Eugene, but heartache for Matthew Bell

Matthew Bell, Banbridge. Pic by Rowland White/PressEye
Matthew Bell, Banbridge. Pic by Rowland White/PressEye

Banbridge Hockey Club’s Eugene Magee saw his Olympic dream fulfilled this week when he was selected as part of the Irish Men’s squad bound for the Rio Olympics.

Magee saidthat he was ‘honoured’ to have been selected in the squad for the Rio games.

“It’s great to have the squad finally decided,” Eugene commented.

“Every athlete aspires to be up there, and the Olympics are the pinnacle of sport in general. To be amongst those going to the Olympics is an honour and a privilege.

“Everybody is over the moon, I have had a lot of help and support from my family and friends, this is as much there’s as it is mine,” he said.

Despite Magee’s joy, there was Olympic heartache for Banbridge star Matthew Bell, who was not included in Coach Craig Fulton’s final squad for Rio.

Eugene said he had briefly spoken with his teammate.

“It’s important for him to deal with it himself first. He obviously wished us all the best, but he’s gutted to not be in it.

“I feel for him, he’s played some excellent hockey and just missed out. I guarantee he has an important future in Irish hockey.”

Magee says that Ireland are targeting a place in the top 4 of their pool.

“We want to finish in the top 4 of the group,” he commented.

“Apart from Canada, every other team is ranked above us,” Eugene explained. “But we have played every team there and have learnt alot about ourselves and them, too.

“Hopefully we can hit the right form on the day. Our first aim is to finish in the top 4, from the quarter finals anything can happen.”

The Banbridge man is also looking forward to having full Olympic experience, enjoying the opening ceremony and life in the Olympic village.

“The Olympics is so unknown to us,” he said. “We’ve heard alot of hype about Rio, so I’m excited to see what it’s going to be like.

“The surroundings and atmosphere will be special.

“I owe a lot to my coaches and my friends and family that have supported me.

“Total Hockey and various others have supported me throughout the Olympic preparation.

“I’m grateful for that support,” said Eugene.