Olympic Hockey play-off: Ireland men beat Canada 5-3 in Vancouver first leg

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Ireland beat Canada in eight-goal thriller
Olympic men's hockey play-off, second leg: Canada v Ireland
Venue: Rutledge Field, Vancouver Date: Sunday, 27 Oct Start time: 21:00 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Sport website and BBC Sport App

Ireland men look on course for next year's Olympics in Tokyo after earning a 5-3 win over Canada in their play-off first leg in Vancouver.

Sean Murray and Shane O'Donoghue both netted twice for Ireland after Chris Cargo had put them ahead.

Cargo's early goal was cancelled out by penalty-corner Canadian strikes from Gordon Johnston and Keegan Pereira.

O'Donoghue and Murray scored after the break to put Ireland ahead and netted again after James Wallace levelled.

The second leg takes place at the same Vancouver venue on Sunday when the Ireland men will be aiming to secure their second Olympic qualification after earning a spot in Rio in 2016.

The Irish, at 13th three places lower in the world rankings than the Canadians, started the sharper as they forced a couple of penalty corners which they were unable to exploit.

However, the goal that the early Ireland enterprise deserved arrived on eight minutes as Cargo finished to the net after he had dispossessed Sukhi Panesar before playing a one-two with Matthew Nelson.

Shane O'Donoghue netted both his goals from penalty corners
Shane O'Donoghue hit his two goals in the second half in Vancouver

But Mark Tumilty's side lost their way before half-time as the Canadians converted two penalty corners with Johnston's shot flying through keeper David Fitzgerald's grasp before Pereira also beat the Irish custodian.

Fitzgerald was a late inclusion in Ireland's goal after former world keeper of the year David Harte had been ruled out by injury.

To his credit, Fitzgerald did deny a pointblank Floris van Son shot just before half-time as the game was threatening to get away form the visitors.

At that stage, Irish indiscipline was becoming a concern with Cargo having become involved in ongoing and unproductive discussions with the umpires following the awarding of the second successful Canadian penalty corner.

However, Ireland regrouped impressively after the break as O'Donoghue's brilliant drag flick from a penalty corner levelled before Murray put the Irish ahead on 39 minutes.

Wallace diverted in a Pereira shot to get Canada on terms again but Murray restored Ireland's lead on 51 minutes after he flicked in a superb ball from the excellent Tim Cross and O'Donoghue's late penalty corner strike ensured his side's two-goal cushion heading into Sunday's second leg.

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