Senior Men’s International: Ireland 2 (Timmy Cockram 2) Malaysia 1 (Muhammad Razie)
Timmy Cockram’s second half double crowned Ireland’s best half of hockey over the four ties with Malaysia at Belfield this week, netting the two corners the country earned.
Both came from switch left moves, the second of which came on the final hooter at the second attempt after the Malaysian number one runner blocked the Lisnagarvey striker’s initial effort.
It was a just reward for an improved, though still flawed, performance from Paul Revington’s men as they feel their way back into action after a six-week lay-off.
Indeed, Ireland managed to keep in contention in each tie with the speedy Malaysians – ranked five places higher in the world – who are amid preparations for the Commonwealth Games in spite of some rocky periods.
An error-strewn first half –in which John Jackson claimed his 50th cap – tonight was a case in point. The visitors thought they had scored in a similar manner to Saturday’s opener when Tajol Rosli’s baseline pull-back ballooned up off a stick and Baljit Singh batted in to the backboard.
It was over shoulder-height, though, and led to a penalty corner in place of a goal. No matter, Muhammad Razie whizzed a flick to the glove side of David Harte’s net.
But, while Ireland struggled to get going, they still picked off a few decent opportunities. Eugene Magee miscued when well-placed while Andy McConnell had a goal chalked off after a tidy right wing move.
It was not overly polished stuff but the hosts were getting into the right positions but the final details were going awry.
Gradually the chances became clearer as David Ames’ creativity and guile came to the fore. A Jackson cross was deflected brilliantly by Mitch Darling’s upright, openside touch which rattled the crossbar while Darling and Cockram forced a double-save from Ibrahim Kairuilnizam.
Ames and Geoff McCabe one-two finally won a first green penalty corner in the 60th minute, allowing Cockram to find the bottom-left corner with a low bullet.
And a fortuitous second corner – a Malaysian defender making a hames of controlling the ball – gave Ireland a golden chance on the final buzzer. Cockram’s drag was blocked but landed stock still and within reach and he managed to poke home the second round for the winner.
Paul Revington was pleased with the improvement shown since Saturday’s outing: “Tonight was better for us as we performed for 50 minutes but the first 10 to 15 minutes were still a bit tentative for which there is no reason. There were fewer gifts tonight and that meant more control in the game by the Irish, which resulted in more sustained pressure for which we were duly rewarded.”
Ireland now head to Paris on Tuesday to play in a Five Nations tournament, the squad for which will be announced early in the week.
Ireland: David Harte, John Jackson, Ronan Gormley (capt), Chris Cargo, Eugene Magee, Andy McConnell, Timmy Cockram, David Ames, Paul Gleghorne, Conor Harte, Phelie Maguire
Subs: Geoff McCabe, Joe Brennan, Mitch Darling, Alan Sothern, Alan Giles
Malaysia: Ibrahim Kairuilnizam, Muhammad Marhan, Muhammad Amin, Tajol Rosli, Harvinder Singh, Mohamed Sukri, Mohan Jivan, Muhammad Razie, Baljit Singh, Muhamad Azammi, Azreen Rizal
Subs: Ahmad Kazamirul, Saari Faizal, Ahmad Tajudin, Nabil Figri, Muhammad Fikri
Umpires: Graeme Caulwell, Kieran Bolger
** Photos from Adrian Boehm