Ireland’s Olympic dream will begin in earnest this weekend.
The Green Machine could scarcely have wished for a harder pool, but what else to expect during the Olympic Games?
They’ve been grouped in Pool B alongside not only the Netherlands and Germany, ranked second and third in the world respectively, but also record eight times Olympic champions India.
Add to that Argentina, ranked seventh in the world, and it makes for a tough task.
Ireland, ranked 12th in the world, will only face one team lower than them in 15th placed Canada.
Their five pool fixtures come tightly packed together in a short six day window from Saturday August 6 until Friday August 12.
They get things started on Saturday when they begin by taking on India, who are ranked fifth on the globe.
That game will begin at 11am local time in Rio, making it 3pm back in Northern Ireland.
The Irish lads will get just a day to recover from their Olympic debuts and will be thrown right back into the thick of the action on Sunday, when they take on the Netherlands.
Young hockey fans will have to stay up late to watch that one as it doesn’t start until 10pm our time.
Things don’t get any easier for Ireland in their third game. It’s on Tuesday 9th August against Germany, who are bidding to win the Olympics for the third time in a row. That game is due to begin at 2pm BST.
Then, finally, come what Ireland will no doubt view as their two most winnable matches.
On Thursday 11th August, they will come up against Canada (pass-back 2pm) in a match that they will likely have to win if they are to have any chance of making it through to the knock-out stages.
Finally, the Green Machine take on Argentina at 9pm on Friday 12th August.
Should they make it through, the quarter-finals will take place on August 14 with the semi-finals two days later.
Finally, if Eugene and his Ireland team’s performances were really to surpass even their wildest dreams, the medal matches will take place on August 18 and August 19.