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Irish can make Tokyo dream a reality: Magee

 

Olympic quest: Eugene Magee
Olympic quest: Eugene Magee

By John Flack

Eugene Magee is confident Ireland can make it to a second consecutive Olympic Games and have the chance to ease the lingering pain of Rio 2016.

Ireland went to Brazil with high hopes of making the knock-out stages but failed to make it out of their group.

They continue their build-up for the first stage of the qualification process for Tokyo 2020 with two games against France at Lisnagarvey next Tuesday and Thursday.

The 32-year-old Banbridge midfielder has recovered from a hamstring injury and trained with the rest of the squad at the Hillsborough venue yesterday.

Magee said: "It will be a step up in class from the games we had against USA last week and good preparation for the tournament.

"We are confident we cannot only do what's needed in the first stage of qualifying, but go on to make Tokyo.

"We have a new coach now in Alexander Cox, for whom we have a lot of respect, and some exciting new players as well.

"Although there are potential banana skins in the first stage of qualifying, if we play to our capabilities then we'll be okay and we'll take it from there."

Nine Ulster players are in the 18-man squad for the World Series tournament at Le Touquet in France later this month.

Ireland, who are ranked 11th in the world, need a top-two finish to keep their hopes alive and, should they succeed, they will progress to the final Olympic eliminator for Tokyo, which takes place later this year.

In the qualifier, Ireland are grouped with lower-ranked Egypt, Scotland and Singapore in Pool A, with France, Korea, Ukraine and Chile in the other section.

Meanwhile, Ireland's Under-21 women opened their campaign with a 2-0 win over Scotland at the Four Nations tournament in Dublin last night, with first-half goals from Queen's striker Jessica McMaster and Abbie Russell.

India beat Canada 2-0 in the other game.

Today: Under-21 Four Nations tournament: Scotland v Canada (4.30pm); Ireland v India (6.30pm).

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