Olympics round-up: A postive day for Irish in Rio

BOXING

It was always going to be difficult to follow up the stunning start to the day’s action for Irish competitors after the heroics of the women’s and men’s lightweight double scullers, but while we have no new finalists, there were some further magnificent results.

Ballymena boxer Steven Donnelly moved to within one fight of a bronze medal with victory over dangerous Mongialian scrapper Tuvshinbat Byamba.

A tight contest that was decided on a split verdict, started as Donnelly marginally edged the first round, although it seemed a little surprising that one judge came down on Byamba’s side.

The second round was much less controlled and Donnelly was unable to impose his superior footwork and hand speed.

That left it all to play for going to the decider, with Donnelly up on one card and the scores deadlocked on the other two.

Clearly the corner did their job very well as they got their man back on track and he resumed the calm authority that brought him home, frustrating his opponent by making him miss, landing clean head and body shots, and then gliding away.

“It was a really tough fight, I knew it would be” said Donnelly afterwards. “We checked his style before this, he comes forward the whole time.

“(He is) a heavy hitter, I knew it would be messy but I stuck to the plan these lads (coaches John Conlan and Eddie Bolger) and (head coach) Zaur (Antia) gave me. Plenty of feinting, step back, long one-twos, sidestep when he comes in and I done that most of the fight.

“There’s times I got dragged into a bit of a fight but you have to do that in some fights. I dug in at the very end and here I am, I’ve won the first two fights and I’m starting to feel very good.”

HOCKEY

Ireland recorded their first win of the Olympic Games but have a dramatic equalising goal eight seconds from the end of time by Germany against Argentina to thank for keeping their hopes of securing a place in the quarter-finals alive.

Craig Fulton’s outfit were out first against Canada and had to look after their own business before looking to other results.

This had been earmarked as a must-win game from the time the draw was made and after the defeats to India, Netherlands and Germany, that was how it transpired.

They opened in stunning style with a penalty corner goal from Shane O’Donoghue in the first minute.

Ireland were all business as they dominated possession and when Canada had it, pushing high up the pitch to force numerous turnovers.

It took until the second quarter to add to their tally with a brace of goals towards the end of the second quarter, from another emphatically-taken O’Donoghue penalty corner and a classy finish by Peter Caruth to make it 3-0 at half time.

They went into protective mode thereafter and Canada did not need a second invitation to pour forward.

The Maple Leaf boys brought it back to the minimum and Ireland were hanging on, needing a couple of remarkable goal-line clearances to prevent their opponents drawing level.

Mitch Darling eased the nerves with a clever finish four minutes from time and it finished 4-2.

All eyes then turned to the other Group B tie between Argentina and Germany. It wasn’t looking good when Argentina recovered from 3-1 down to lead in the final quarter but Mathias Muller rescued the Germans, and Ireland, with the dramatic equaliser.

That means that Ireland can make history if they beat Argentina tomorrow night.

BADMINTON

Chloe Magee was presented with a tall order to emerge from her group once she was drawn with London silver medallist, world number 2 and former world champion Yihan Wang.

The 27-year-old, competing in her third Olympics, had the Chinese star in her first game today but looked very nervous initially.

Despite scoring the first point, she made a series of unusual unforced errors and failed to put pressure on her vaunted opponent, losing the next nine points.

The tall Wang mixed subtlety and power, smashing accurately but in particular, catching the eye with stunning drop shots.

That game ended 21-7 but Magee was a different proposition altogether in the second game, keeping the errors to the minimum and beginning to move Wang around the court.

That made her much more competitive but in the end, the Raphoe woman had to give way 21-12.

With only one player coming out of each group, it is unlikely that Magee will progress but she does have one more game and she will be hoping to go out on a high with a defeat of Karin Schnasse of Germany on Saturday, although if she could do that and the German somehow shocked Wang, it could all come down to mathematics.


KEYWORDS: olympics, sport

 

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