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Rio Olympics: Ireland and Great Britain still await their first wins

By Graham Hamilton

Ireland men may have lost their opening two pool games in Rio over the weekend but they still believe they have an outside chance of making next week's knock-out stages.

And arch rivals Great Britain also started with defeat on Saturday although a 2-2 draw late last night got them off the mark in the other pool.

Yes, as expected it has been a difficult start for both and particularly the Irish who are up against four of the top seven teams in the world.

But Craig Fulton's squad, virtually half from Ulster, ran India close on Saturday afternoon before losing 3-2 and then lost 5-0 to Netherlands late last night.

The defeat against World No.5 India was hard to take and the Green Machine were a tad unlucky late on when they could have snatched a draw with a sustained bout of pressure late on.

Against World No.2 Netherlands, the big difference was in clincial finishing, with the Dutch putting away chances and Ireland wasting five corners.

The Irish conceded twice in a minute in the first quarter, through a van der Weerden penalty corner and a lovely deflection from Kroon.

They had their chances, though, with Alan Sothern, Jonathan Bell, Mitch Darling, Chris Cargo and Kyle Good all coming close whereas van der Weerden crashed in two penalty corners and Kroon, Pruijer and Hertzeberger scored from open play.

Against India it was again accuracy at penalty corners that was the difference, with Taghunath converting the opener and Rupinder pal Singh putting away two more set pieces.

John Jermyn converted a penalty corner and then Conor Harte set up a thrilling finale when he put away another penalty corner.

"As a team, we normally pride ourselves on accuracy and it didn't fire for us against India," said Irish coach Fulton. "All of our drag-flickers are good but although the shots were on, we were just missing the target."

Lisnagarvey defender Jonathan Bell said: "Rio is a special place to be and in the whole the players were enjoying being part of the Olympic environment but they would enjoy it a lot more if they could get a win or two under their belts."

Great Britain, with four Ulstermen in their ranks, slumped to a 4-1 defeat against Belgium on Saturday but rallied to draw 2-2 with New Zealand last night.

Their marksmen against the Black Sticks were David Condond from close range while Barry Middleton scored at the back post from Iain Lewers' cross.

Their next game is against the lowest ranked team, hosts Brazil, tomorrow (10pm BST) while Ireland's third pool game is against current Olympic champions Germany tomorrow afternoon (4.30pm BST).

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