Rio dream is

Ireland's Stephen Dowds in action against Australia in the World Hockey League Semi-Final. �INPHO/Frank Uijlenbroek
Ireland's Stephen Dowds in action against Australia in the World Hockey League Semi-Final. �INPHO/Frank Uijlenbroek
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Banbridge Hockey Club trio Eugene Magee, Stephen Dowds and Drew Carlisle and their Ireland team mates have kept their hopes of qualifying for the Olympics alive with a 4-1 win over Malaysia on Sunday.

The Irish mens hockey team are on track to qualify for next year’s Olympic Games following a brilliant win in their World Hockey League play-off in Antwerp.

Following their 1-0 win over Pakistan during the week, the Irish knew that only a win would keep their hopes of qualifying for next year’s Games alive.

Sunday’s victory means they finished fifth in the World Hockey League and will be in Rio next year if results in the continental championships go their way.

The final places won’t be confirmed until all the continental championships have been completed, however.

Banbridge Hockey Club coach Mark Tumilty said the Irish squad’s achievement is a “great boost for the game.

“It’s a fantastic achievement to give themselves the opportunity to qualify,” Tumilty said. “Obviously there are a few things that have to happen first, but I hope things fall into place for them.

“I’d be surprised if they don’t,” he added.

“This is a significant boost for the game as a whole in Ireland,” he continued. “The women were unlucky in their bid.

“The sacrifices the whole squad have made, the times they have to train at to fit around work and study, which other guys don’t have to do as most of the squads are full time.

“Drew Carlisle took a year out of work to concentrate on this. I’m not sure what the guys will do for next year.

“It’s also a boost for the club. There are a few guys on the fringe of the squad. They now know there is a potential Olympic place to place for,” Tumilty said.

“I’m sure Bruce McCandless would like to be involved, as would Matthew Bell, Phillip Brown and Peter Brown.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to become an Olympian. Everyone in the squad deserves what they have got out of it and Craig as coach deserves a lot of credit.

“It’s just disappointing that they don’t find out straight away.”

Tumilty added: “It’s a great great boost for the game, with the coverage received on Sky.

“It’s great for the club to have so many guys involved. It’s very good if they can get there.

“I’m delighted for them,” the coach concluded.