Olympic Hockey play-offs: Tumilty says Tokyo spot a must for Ireland men

Mark Tumilty led Banbridge to one Irish Hockey League title and two Irish Cups
Goalkeeper David Harte says Tumilty has restored the Ireland players' belief after their poor showing in this year's EuroHockey Championship
Olympic men's hockey play-off: Canada v Ireland
Venue: Rutledge Field, Vancouver Dates: Saturday and Sunday, 25 & 26 Oct Start times: 22:00 BST and 21:00 GMT
Coverage: Both games live on BBC Sport website and BBC Sport App

Ireland men's coach Mark Tumilty says the sport in Ireland needs a victory in this weekend's two-leg Olympic play-off against Canada.

The Irish men play Saturday's first leg in Vancouver with the second leg at the same venue on Sunday and both games are live on the BBC Sport NI website.

"We need to grow the game on the back of another Olympics," recently-appointed Tumilty told BBC Sport NI.

"We probably need to grow the game more than we did the last time [in 2016]."

Tumilty, who replaced Dutchman Alexander Cox who resigned following Ireland's relegation to the second tier at the EuroHockey Championships, says both the Irish players and coaching staff must be ready to deal with the pressure of this weekend's two matches.

"There is pressure but it's international hockey.

"From a coaching point of view and a playing point of view, there is a massive amount of experience in the group.

"These guys have played in EHL [Euro Hockey League] finals. That's [the pressure] not a concern of mine."

Ireland goalkeeper David Harte says Tumilty's arrival has helped to restore the team's morale after their relegation in the Euro Hockey Championships.

"Mark is an amazing motivator and has come in and instilled confidence and belief back into the green machine again," said Harte.

"He has that ability to man manage and understand the individual difference between players."

Ireland's men beat Canada 4-2 at the Rio Olympics but the 10th-ranked Canadians are now three places higher in the world rankings.

In the build-up to this weekend's play-off, the Irish men did beat 12th-ranked France in two games in Bordeaux but their final warm-up game saw them handed a 6-0 hammering by Belgium.

Ireland's women will also face Canada in their two-legged Olympic play-off in Dublin next weekend.

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