The Olympic Council of Ireland are to contribute €50,000 towards Ireland's Men's Hockey team's participation in the Rio Olympics.

Earlier this month, head coach Craig Fulton said the side needed to raise €225,000 in order to fund their Olympic dream.

The side will become the first team to represent Ireland at the games since 1948 and the first hockey side to compete since 1908.

Only seven of the 27-man squad which is currently preparing for Rio are full-time players, with the rest trying to balance elite sport with work or study.

Announcing the contribution, OCI President Pat Hickey said they are "very much looking forward to helping them maximise their potential in Rio."

Fulton naturally welcomed the announcement, saying "This is an invaluable injection supporting our preparation to compete against the best teams in the world at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

"It is a privilege to be part of Team Ireland and we are relishing the prospect of representing Ireland on the biggest stage in the world."
 

Ireland will start their Rio programme against India on 6 August and they will play London 2012 silver medalists Netherlands the following day.

Defending champions Germany are next up on 9 August, with Canada and Argentina to follow. The top four teams will qualify for the last-eight.

Ireland captain David Harte is one of the few professionals in the squad, playing in the Dutch Hoofdklasse, hockey’s most competitive domestic league, and he also spends six weeks annually in India playing with clubs there.

The Kinsale man is current world goalkeeper of the year and he says none of the other Olympic qualifiers have cash problems like Ireland.

“They’re all backed by governments and external sponsors - they have monthly incomes and they are essentially professional athletes,” he noted.

Further details of Ireland’s fundraising programme can be found here.