Ireland medal dream ended by Malaysia

Ireland in action in the semi-finals of the Champions Challenge Trophy
Ireland in action in the semi-finals of the Champions Challenge Trophy

Ireland’s dream of landing a bronze medal at the Champions Challenge Trophy ended after they went down 4-2 to hosts Malaysia.

But to finish in fourth spot was more than some were predicting, as many senior players were unable to make the trip and new Irish coach Craig Fulton had utilised a relatively inexperienced side.

After narrowly missing out in the final, going down 2-1 to Korea, Irish confidence was riding high and there was an air of anticipation that they could take bronze.

But in front of several thousand very vocal Malaysian fans, Ireland couldn’t have had a worse start, as just after seven minutes they went behind when Ahmad Nasruddin slotted home a penalty stroke for the opener.

And in the 11th minute, Malaysia doubled their lead, this time catching the Irish on the counter attack when Muhammad Baharon smashed the ball home.

Ireland started the second period strongly and Stephen Dowds had a shot saved on the line and Maurice Elliott just couldn’t get a pass delivered to a waiting Alan Sothern in the Malaysian circle.

It was all Ireland and the pressure soon paid off, when Ulster’s Paul Gleghorne deflected the ball past the Malaysian keeper for a rare open play goal.

Ireland finished the half the stronger and in the 43rd minute they were deservedly back on level terms, when Ulster’s Chris Cargo slotted the ball in from close range.

The Green machine were in full attack mode and sensed that they could get that bronze medal but with six minutes remaining, Malaysia restored their lead.

The Irish had to go for it and with them pushing forward Malaysia struck again, after Malaysian team captain, Azlan Mishron scored with two minutes remaining to the secure the medal much to the delight of the vocal Malaysian fans.

Korea collected gold, smashing Canada 4-0 in a very one sided final. The Koreans automatically qualify for the 2016 Champions Challenge 1.

Ulster and Banbridge player, Eugene Magee became Ireland’s most capped player against Malaysia, picking up his 167th international cap. And Ireland’s Davy Harte was named goal-keeper of the tournament.

Congratulations to Ulster Juniors, as they retained their Inter-provincial crown in Cork.

And Cookstown also retained the McCausland, Light and Rankin Anderson Cup, with Lisnagarvey finishing in the runner’s up slot.

Mossley picked up the Anderson Plate with two wins and a draw against Civil Service, Portadown and Newry.