It’s so far, so good for Banbridge Hockey Club’s Olympic hopefuls.
Bruce McCandless and Stevie Dowds have both been on the score-sheet as Ireland began their World League 2 campaign with two victories in San Diego.
The Bann duo netted in the opening 8-0 win over Chile to give their Irish side, also containing Eugene Magee and Drew Carlisle, the early lead in Pool A before they also saw off Austria 3-1 on Sunday.
Now, Craig Fulton’s side need just a draw with winless Italy today (Tuesday) to stay at the top going into the ranking matches (pass-back 9pm Irish time).
Providing they can avoid defeat against Italy, Ireland are most likely to come up against Pool B strugglers Trinidad and Tobago, who have suffered heavy 6-1 and 7-1 defeats in their opening games, in Thursday’s quarter-final.
Ireland need to finish in the top three in the tournament that ends on Sunday to progress to World League 3 and keep up their hopes of reaching next year’s Olympics.
“We have some quality players up front and they played to their strengths getting good ball in the 25 and we created good chances,” said coach Fulton after a pleasing start.