NEW DELHI: An otherwise disappointing opening day for India at the Rio Olympics found lift from the men’s hockey team, who beat Ireland 3-2 at the Olympic Hockey Centre in Deodoro Olympic Park, the second largest venue cluster of the Rio Games.
India’s fourth penalty of the first quarter was converted into a goal by VR Raghunath, who made it 1-0 in the 15th minute. With less than three minutes left in the second quarter, Rupinder Pal Singh put India up 2-0 with a thundering penalty corner strike. Ireland pulled things back in the last minute of the third quarter with a goal from John Jermyn, but their celebrations were short lived as Rupinder scored again with another stunning PC strike.
With five minutes to go, Ireland reduced the deficit to one goal thanks to Conor Harte. As the clock ticked down, India staved off Ireland’s charge to emerge winners. Clubbed with Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, Argentina and Canada in Group B, the Indian men’s team will next play Germany on Monday.
India is the most successful country in men’s Olympic hockey, having won eight gold medals, but they have not reached the podium since the Moscow 1980 Games.