Ireland captain Ronan Gormley has said that the team’s results ahead of the Olympic qualifier next month have not crossed his mind.
Four years ago, the Irish men’s Olympic dream unwound in gut-wrenching fashion in New Zealand.
A three-way tie saw Ireland level with the Black Sticks as well as Argentina but they missed out on a one-off playoff for the final place at the Beijing Games by just a single goal on goal difference.
While many would wracked their brains, wondering where an extra goal could have been eked out over the five game group phase, Gormley admits it is something he never really dwelt on.
Among their most recent successes was an epic 5-4 result against a rising Belgian force, a side already qualified for the Games.
When asked whether he was in anyway concerned by recent results ahead of the 10 March qualifier in Belfield, he said:
“Until that question, I hadn’t even thought of it. Our focus is on performance. It’s nice to get results. There isn’t really excitement in the build-up games as such when you do [beat Belgium].
“It’s another match ticked off; what did we do well and what can we learn for the next match? There are handshakes and a pat on the back but, after the match, results against that sort of opposition are accumulating. It’s not something you have a skip and a jump about it.”
Last summer, one of the results that announced Ireland as an emerging contender on the world stage was a 5-1 victory over world number six side Korea.
“It was very similar,” he said. “It was very matter of fact when we walked off the pitch. We’re going to do the same thing, do our warm down then watch the video, rest and then go again the next day.”
The Asian side, nonetheless, are the biggest hurdle to be overcome in the qualifier and are fresh from an incredible comeback series win against New Zealand.
Gormley said: “Korea are the top ranked side so it’s obvious to say they are the calibre team. Malaysia, we’ve had some good battles with them in the past, tight margins so both teams are big challenges.
“Chile are quite hungry as a lower ranked team; they always fight hard while we’ve had the better of Russia in the last while but they have beaten other higher ranked opposition so need to be taken care of as well.”
On the face of it, Malaysia and Ireland look set for a showdown on the second Saturday of the competition (17 March).
The south-east Asian side have been inconsistent with a victory over the Netherlands followed by an 8-1 capitulation to Australia, something which Gormley says makes them both “dangerous and weak at the same time”.
Ireland’s Road To London Olympic Qualifier takes place on 10th -18th March at UCD.