Poland shock Ireland as they beat Craig Fulton’s men

Ireland's Peter Brown
Ireland's Peter Brown

Ireland’s chances of reaching the finals of the Champions Challenge in Malaysia, suffered a massive set back when they lost 2-1 to Poland, leaving the Irish languishing at the bottom of Pool A on zero points.

The Green Machine had been hoping to bounce back from their opening defeat to New Zealand, in a game where they narrowly lost 2-1 to a team who are ranked nine places above them.

Poland, who are ranked 18th struck first when they opened the score in the 18th minute after Krystian Makowski deflected the ball into the Irish goal.

Ireland frantically searched for the equaliser and with six minutes of the second quarter remaining Alan Sothern was denied from their first penalty corner of the game.

But two minutes into the second half Ireland had a dream start when Maurice Elliott, scored his first international goal to level it. Ireland now had their tails up as they pushed forward for another goal.

However, they could not spring open the Polish defence, and with three minutes remaining disaster struck, when Pawel Bratkowski blasted home the winner with a well taken penalty corner strike.

It’s a rest day for Ireland on Monday before they face Japan in a must win game on Tuesday.

Commenting after the match Irish Coach Craig Fulton was proud of his team saying: “I am proud of the effort put in by my players today. They were tough conditions to play in and the players came through well. We are looking for continuous improvement and this was a positive start.”

Meanwhile on the domestic front, Anderson Cup holders, Cookstown, cruised into the finals, topping their Pool with three straight wins over Raphoe, Portadown and South Antrim.

Banbridge, playing without six regulars, who are in Malaysia with Ireland at the Champions Challenge, squeezed out Newry to clinch top spot in their group to reach the play-off finals.

Both Bann and Cookstown will be joined by Instonians and Lisnagarvey in the Anderson Cup finals.

And in the plate competition, it will be Newry, Mossley, Portadown and Civil Service.

The Plate competition gets underway at 12.00 Saturday 3 May, with the Anderson Cup finals starting at 4.30pm. It promises to be great day of hockey at Havelock Park, Banbridge marking the end of the season.

Champions Challenge Results: Group A

New Zealand 2-1 Ireland

Japan 3-2 Poland

Japan 1-6 New Zealand

Ireland 1-2 Poland.