Ireland have their first medal of the Tokyo Olympics after the quartet of Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty produced a stirring finish to take the bronze medal in the women's four final.

Australia, who dominated the race from the very start, held on in the face of a late surge from the Netherlands to take gold with the Dutch claiming silver.

Ireland didn't perhaps get off to the start that they wanted in blustery conditions at the Sea Forest Waterway.

They were down in fourth place at the 500m mark and at the half-way stage, had dropped to fifth with only the unfancied Poland behind them.

Medal win hasn't sunk in for family at home

However, Keogh, Lambe, Murtagh and Hegarty found their rhythm in the second half of the race, overtaking China and closing the gap on Great Britain at the 1,500m mark.

With 500m left, Ireland very much had Great Britain in their sights, hunting down the boat that had sat in the bronze medal position for nearly all of the race.

With China also mounting a late challenge for bronze, Ireland held them off and ate into the GB lead, passing them out with 200m to go and then stretched away at the end, beating the GB by half a length.

Afterwards, Lambe admitted that Ireland's slow start was a cause for concern for them out on the water, but she and her team-mates never lost belief that they could pull it back.

"We knew we could win a medal, it was just about whether we could pull it off," she told RTÉ Sport.

"We also knew that every crew was also capable of winning a medal so it was just about who got down the course as well as they could in these conditions.

"It was a bit touch and go. Throughout the race I’m like 'we’re coming fourth, fifth …' I was looking out and I knew we were slipping back and we kind of said to ourselves that if that happened we’d just go early.

"I think in the last kilometre we back ourselves and everyone else out there knows that in the last 1k we just start to go. We could kind of hear it left and right, ‘don’t let them, don’t let them’."

Meanwhile, Emily Hegarty hopes that the achievement of becoming the first Irish female rowers to win Olympic medals will inspire others to follow them.

"It’s a bit surreal," she said. "It’s something for the future and hopefully it will be the first of many and will give the young girls coming up now real hope.

"It’s completely possible, if we can do it, anyone can."