Mitch Darling retires from the men’s international hockey team

‘When I got my first cap in 2006 I could never have dreamed reaching the heights we did’

Mitch Darling has played his last game for Ireland after announcing his international retirement. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Mitch Darling has played his last game for Ireland after announcing his international retirement. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

Mitch Darling has announced his retirement from the men’s international hockey team following a glittering career, highlighted by a European bronze medal and being part of both the groundbreaking Olympic and World Cup squads.

The diminutive striker made his debut in 2006 just after his 18th birthday, a time widely viewed as the year zero for the men’s rise from outside the world’s top 20 to reaching the top 10 with vastly improved structures introduced.

Darling went on to earn 183 caps, scoring 51 times, perhaps the pick of them a blockbuster reverse strike in Rio in 2016 against Germany. His final cap came in the World Cup in India in December against England - Ireland’s first appearance on this stage since 1990.

“When I got my first cap in 2006 I could never have dreamed reaching the heights we did,” he said of his retirement. “I am definitely privileged to have played with some of the best players to ever wear a green shirt. Being involved in such a special era holds some amazing memories and undoubtedly the biggest career defining moment was the Rio Olympics, an experience to be cherished forever.”

He is the fourth of the Olympians to formally retire following John Jermyn, Ronan Gormley and Michael Watt.

His path to the national team began at Three Rock Rovers Hockey Club and Wesley College, winning All-Ireland titles with both before going on to play professionally in Belgium and Holland with KHC Leuven, SCHC, Den Bosch and HC Rotterdam.

His return to Rovers has coincided with two EY Champions Trophy titles in succession as well as two Irish Senior Cup wins - their first since the 1970s.

“I want to thank the coaches who contributed significantly to my development during the early years from Wesley College and Three Rock Rovers. I’m eternally grateful to the Irish support staff and management, both past and present, who went above and beyond to help us perform on the pitch.

“As a player I think I really flourished under the tutelage of Paul Revington and Craig Fulton; incredible men and detailed coaches that revolutionised both the game and the players in Ireland.”

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