Reaction: Celebrations on hold as Argentina already in view

While Ireland’s win over Canada, a first at the Olympics, was one to be cherished, the players are keen to quickly move on to the challenge that faces them on Friday evening against Argentina (11.30pm, Irish time).

Speaking afterwards, David Harte said he was “bloody delighted” with the victory but said the job of reaching the quarter-finals is still very much on.

“Now we have to have our eyes solely set on the Argentina game. It’s only 24 hours away and we have to get recovery started straight away. That’s it, celebrations done. We really have to get our head right because we are still right in this.”

Mitch Darling, scorer of the fourth goal, was of a similar frame of mind.

“It’s great to make another piece of history for Irish hockey, to be part of it individually and collectively. We’re delighted with the win but it means nothing now if we can’t back it up tomorrow but its good to get the first win on the board and three points.”

Looking back on the game, Harte said: “We always knew it would be a fight and we got a fantastic start with Shane O’Donoghue sticking in the drag-flicks. From there, we took our foot off the gas after half-time and they had to to come out as was expected but the guys dug out a fourth to make it a less nervy finish.

Over to two-goal hero, O’Donoghue: “We made it tough on ourselves but it was always going to be really tight. Both teams were going for the exact same result.”

He added that despite the corner machine faltering earlier in the week, there was always faith that it could be an effective weapon for the side.

“The big thing with the corners is to stay relaxed. Even though it was frustrating at the start of the week, missing a few against India, but the big plus is we are winning those corners. It needed to happen today and I am glad it did.”

Coach Craig Fulton said the corners used were the product of plenty of reconaissance over the last few months: “We have played them five times for a reason [in the build-up]. That’s where funding is needed for an event like this so we have reconaissance and information. We did the same research against India and it didn’t come off. Today it did.”

“As a team, it was our best start,” O’Donoghue continued. “There was a good atmosphere going into it, everyone was relaxed, knew what we had to do and put their bodies on the line.”

O’Dononghue also paid tribute to Ronan Gormley and others for making vital contributions.

“Old man Ronan pulls out these mad things from time to time and it proved to be a massive moment in the game.”

Gormley, though, suggested it was more run of the mill: “Anyone in my position would have done the same thing. There were other occasions other players made interventions which were just as important. A great team effort.”

As for coach Craig Fulton, he was happy to salute another big moment in the evolution of the team.

“That’s what we needed. It was exciting. It was always going to come to this; we were pushing Germany all the way in the last quarter and Canada did it to us today. We did all the damage in the first half.

“To go 3-0 up, the way we played and executed the corners was something that has been missing from the last three games but we knew we had it in us and it was awesome.

“The first Olympic win, three points. It’s huge. They deserved it. We have been pushing hard for four games and everyone can see the lads are leaving it all on the field. Today, we were clinical.

“We were under pressure at the end of course but it’s the last quarter of an Olympic pool game and everything counts. Chuffed, proud of everyone. The fans, the support has been immense.

“Sometimes I think we have more support here in Rio at our games in Dublin. No disrespect to the home crowd but I hope it grows and people get behind the team because they really are putting themselves out there.”

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