The Irish men’s hockey team has flown out to Argentina to play in the Champions Challenge 1.
The tour is being dubbed the ‘Peoples Tour’ as if it wasn’t for the generosity of the Irish hockey fraternity, when it raised 60,000 euros (£48,000) to send the team to South America, the Irish team would not have gone to Argentina, and the repercussions would have been unthinkable.
But, what if the support had not been forthcoming, where would Irish hockey have been?
A hefty fine would have been imposed on the IHA by the FIH for withdrawing from the tournament.
And years of good work and dedication of the players and the coaching staff would have just gone down the plug hole.
The Irish Team have now the opportunity of thanking the people, who dug deep into their pockets, by winning the tournament.
But does the squad feel that there is now that added expectation to win? Speaking before he left for the 14 hour trip to Agentina, Lisnagarvey’s Timmy Cockram, who is one of nine Ulster players named in the squad, gave his thoughts.
“I don’t really feel there is the added pressure to win.
“The Irish support has always been there and we saw that at the Olympic qualifier,” said Cockram.
“It has been a very humbling experience and I can’t thank everyone enough for the support that they have shown us.
“But there is one thing for certain, we can never ever go back again.
“What we do have to do is build upon what we have already achieved and move further up the world rankings.
“This tournament will give us that opportunity and if we do win it, then we will automatically qualify for the next Men’s Champions Trophy in 2013.”
This is the first time that Ireland has played in the Champions Challenge 1 and three of the teams, South Africa, Korea and hosts Argentina all recently played in the London Olympic Games.
But Ireland will have an opportunity to right a wrong, after Korea inflicted the heartbreak of knocking the Irish out of qualifying for the Olympics, by defeating them in their own back garden in front of massive Irish support.