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Ulster trio help GB seal place at the Rio Olympics

By Graham Hamilton

Published 02/07/2015

Rio grand: Mark Gleghorne helped Great Britain qualify
Rio grand: Mark Gleghorne helped Great Britain qualify

Three Ulstermen have helped Great Britain book their place at the 2016 Olympics - and there is still hope that another nine can join them in Rio. GB, with Iain Lewers, Mark Gleghorne and David Ames in their ranks, beat Pakistan 2-1 yesterday afternoon in the World League 3 quarter-finals in Antwerp, guaranteeing them a top-four finish at the least - and that earns them a ticket to Rio.

The top three go through to the Olympics, but up to fifth place is usually good enough when the continental champions are taken out of the equation as they automatically qualify.

And as India are also in the semi-finals at Antwerp, and have already won the Asian championships, it means GB are DEFINITELY through to Rio.

The next question is whether Ireland, with nine Ulsterman in their side, can get that top-five finish which should be enough for them too.

Craig Fulton's side, not unexpectedly, lost their quarter-final 4-1 to world champions Australia yesterday but there's still a chance if they can beat Pakistan in tomorrow's fifth-eighth play-off (12pm) and then either Malaysia or France on Sunday.

"I'm incredibly proud of our performance against the world's best but at the same time we're all very disappointed because we believed we could get a result," said Irish coach Fulton.

"But the door hasn't slammed on us yet."

But first the GB win. Ulsterman Lewers was involved in both the goals, setting up Chris Griffiths and then Alistair Brodon to secure the crucial result.

Australia found it hard to put Ireland to bed. They managed just one before half-time, with Matt Gohdes putting away a penalty corner but a piece of magic from talisman Jamie Dwyer and two goals in a minute from Simon Orchard and Blake Govers killed the game off before Shane O'Donoghue finally converted one of the handful of Irish chances from a penalty corner.

Results: Quarter-finals: Australia 4 Ireland 1, Great Britain 2 Pakistan 1, India 3 Malaysia 2. 9th-10th play-off: Poland 4 China 2

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