Craig Fulton knows tougher tests lie ahead for Ireland
Scoreless draw with Canada concludes successful two-week stint in South Africa
Banbridge’s Eugene Magee: one of several Irish players to test Canada goalkeeper David Carter. Photograph: Inpho.
Just one match against Spain, where coach Craig Fulton’s team were defeated 3-2, will need to be reversed if Ireland is to aim above the levels they have played to in previous years and even above last year’s level where the team won a bronze medal at the European Championships for the first time in history.
The nature of the Irish pool draw in Rio determines that whatever squad eventually travels to Brazil it will need step up significantly to avoid just making up the numbers.
Pool B DrawCanada
But South Africa have been somewhat encouraging, if not totally, with two draws and two wins against Canada so far from four Test matches. That includes yesterday’s scoreless meeting with the Canadians in the fourth Test after winning 2-0, drawing 1-1 and winning 4-2.
Yesterday’s game had plenty of chances with Lisnagarvey’s Michael Watt, Banbridge’s Eugene Magee and Dragons’ Shane O’Donoghue all having opportunities for Ireland and Canadian goalkeeper David Carter rising to the challenge each time, especially in the second half.
Ireland also recorded a 3-3 draw with the hosts South Africa, who have not qualified for Rio.
Ireland are ranked 12th in the World to Belgium’s 5th, while Canada are 14 and Spain one place above Ireland at 11.
The fact that Ireland have been training all along will also be factored in, although with the games against Belgium scheduled for midday, the squad will be fresh enough for the hot conditions. Saturday midday temperatures in Cape Town, where the team are based, are forecast to be in the low 30s.
The average high in Rio during the month of August, when the tournament takes place, is 25.5 degrees.