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Meet Ireland's Olympic Team: Men's hockey

It’s their first time to qualify for the Olympic Games and they’re determined to make it count.

Who are they? Head coach Craig Fulton has named his squad of 16 two weeks ago. Goalkeeper and captain David Harte leads the group with Tim Cockram, Michael Robson and David Fitzgerald named as travelling reserves:

The Ireland team prepare to take a short corner The team prepare to take a short corner against the Netherlands in Cork this month. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Goalkeepers: David Harte (Capt.)

Defenders: Jonny Bell, Paul Gleghorne, Ronan Gormley, Conor Harte, John Jackson.

Midfielders: Chris Cargo, John Jermyn, Eugene Magee, Shane O’Donoghue, Kirk Shimmins.

Forwards: Peter Caruth, Mitch Darling, Kyle Good, Alan Sothern, Michael Watt. 

Olympic CV: Ireland have not had a hockey team at the Olympic Games since the formation of the state. Before that though, they claimed silver at the 1908 London Olympics before losing to the hosts in the final.

Chris Cargo dejected at the end of the game Chris Cargo reacts to the late loss in Belfield that dashed hopes of reaching London 2012. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

More recently, the qualification road has been a fast-track to heartbreak. A qualifying tournament in New Zealand in 2008 saw them miss out on a final berth only by goal difference (aided by a controversial loss to the hosts). And four years ago they suffered a last-minute defeat to Korea in UCD.

Road to Rio: This time, there was no last-gasp heartbreak.

Ireland secured their berth in Brazil back in October when Australia defeated New Zealand in the Oceania Cup final. Ireland had been enduring an anxious wait for that moment since their performances in last July’s World League earned a fifth-place overall and the third slot on a waiting list for Rio qualification.

Australia’s victory over the Black Sticks earned Ireland the call as the Kookaburras had already qualified by other means.

When do they start? Not long to wait. Ireland will have the tough task of escaping Group B — which contains reigning Olympic champions Germany, silver medalists the Netherlands and Americas champs Argentina. Ireland start their campaign at 3pm Irish time on 6 August against India, ranked fifth in the world.

Where can I follow them? @IreMenHockey on Twitter, plus you can find Hockey Ireland on Instagram here, or on Facebook.

What they say:

“It’s not a matter of just showing up. It’s about competing; everybody in our team is selected based on that mindset, that they are fierce competitors, always wanting to improve and try their best,” Eugene Magee told Hook Hockey.

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Medal chances:

Ireland are ranked 12th in the world going in to this 12-team tournament with only Brazil and Canada below our boys in the pecking order.

The top four teams advance from each pool to make up the quarter-finals, so Ireland will have to beat Canada and world number seven Argentina at a minimum to earn a place against the top-placed seed from Group A (likely to be Australia or Team GB).

If they could tag on a third or fourth win though, who knows how far their shockwaves might be felt.

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And here’s something you probably didn’t know…

Peter Caruth is the butt of most team jokes it seems.

Source: The42.ie/YouTube

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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