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David Ames and Ian Sloan make impact for Great Britain hockey

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Ian Sloan

Ian Sloan

AP

Ian Sloan

Ulster’s David Ames and Ian Sloan helped Team GB’s men’s hockey side beat Canada to make it two wins from two at the Olympic Games but it was a performance with more questions than answers.

With their opening matches in Pool B coming against lower-ranked South Africa and Canada, Team GB  including Cookstown duo Ames and Sloan — have put six points on the board but have laboured to back-to-back 3-1 victories.

At the Oi Hockey Stadium in Tokyo, they were being held 0-0 at half-time but two second-half goals from Liam Ansell and one from Sam Ward ensured victory, despite Canadian resilience.

With four of the six teams from Pool B reaching the quarter-finals, Team GB’s place in the knockout stages is already looking secure but with much trickier tests against Germany, Netherlands and Belgium to come, double goal scorer Ansell is adamant they won’t be resting on their laurels.

“We’re always trying to improve — we’ll look back at this game and see what we can improve straight away for tomorrow (against Germany),” he explained.

“In these tournaments, games come thick and fast — there’s always another game the next day, so we’re straight into recovery and prepping for Germany now.

“We’ve had a great block of training coming into this and we performed well in tournaments leading up to this, so we’ve got the confidence and the self-belief. It’s just about delivering on the pitch now.

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“There’ll be stuff we can improve on over the long-term. If you stay still in this game, you’ll start going down the world rankings and as a team we’re trying to push forward, so we know our next three games are against three of the best teams in the world [Germany, Netherlands and Belgium].

“It’s why we play the sport — we want to test ourselves against the best and I’m looking forward to it.”

In the women’s competition, a late flurry of goals saw world number one side the Netherlands eventually break Ireland down and win 4-0 at the Oi Stadium in Ireland’s second group game.

Ireland, inspired by an Ayeisha McFerran goalkeeping masterclass, kept the Oranje raiders at bay until they produced a final quarter barrage.

McFerran admitted: “It’s tough to take. We defended really, really well and I’m really proud of how everyone just kept fighting right to the end.

"I’m disappointed with the last goal especially, I think I didn’t do myself justice on that one. But overall, the Dutch showed they are number one for a reason.”

Team-mate Katie Mullan described McFerrin as world class, saying: “Ayeisha is so hard to beat. She made save after save.

“We are so proud of her. She is so professional in everything she does. To do anything in these tournaments, you need a world class goalkeeper and we are so lucky to have her.”

 

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