Caruth strikes late to earn Irish bronze

Peter Caruth grabbed the vital winner for Ireland against Malayasia
Peter Caruth grabbed the vital winner for Ireland against Malayasia

THERE were cries of Bronce! Bronce! Bronce! as Peter Caruth’s last gasp golden-goal gave Ireland a sensational and thoroughly deserved bronze medal at the Champions Challenge in Argentina.

It was an early Christmas present to Irish supporters who had raised a staggering £45,000 to send the Irish team to the tournament and to think Ireland were on the verge of pulling out, due to lack of funding.

After a tentative start to the tournament, when Ireland lost their opening two pool games, Ireland began to produce the hockey that had nearly taken them to the London Olympics in the cross-overs.

Disappointed at losing 2-1 to Argentina in the semi-finals on Saturday, the Irish knew that against Malaysia and their former coach, Paul Revington, they had to pull out all the stops to take the bronze medal and what a performance.

With only three minutes gone, Geoff McCabe blasted Ireland into the lead but on 17 minutes, Malaysia hit back, to level things against the run of play.

Ireland were spurred into action and on 27 minutes, Conor Harte edged Ireland back into the lead, as he slammed the ball home.

With both sides down to 10 men at the start of the second half, after an off the ball incident it was all Ireland as shots from Caruth, Harte and Michael Watt saw their shots go agonisingly wide off the upright.

Once again Malaysia stunned Ireland, this time Saari levelling the game just as it seemed that Ireland would stretch their lead.

Malaysia now had their tails in the air and with six minutes remaining and pressing Ireland, Malaysia stole the lead, this time through Abu.

But Ireland were not finished, as three minutes later Harte drilled home a penalty corner, to send the game into extra time.

Ireland began extra time with nine men, as they had two players in the sin bin and just as they were back to full strength, Caruth powered into the Malaysian circle to smash home a thunderous reverse stick shot to score the winning Golden Goal and send the Irish team and their fans into ecstasy.