Men’s Senior international: Ireland 2 (Alan Giles, Alan Sothern ps) Malaysia 4 (Saari Faizal, Izwan Firdaus, Ahmad Tajudin, Misron Azlan)
Malaysia withstood 37 minutes of suspensions to roast an undercooked Ireland at Belfield tonight in the second of four challenge matches, scoring twice after Nabil Figri was red carded in the 42nd minute.
He was given his marching orders for an off-the-ball incident, taking a cut at Gareth Watkins in the circle as the crowd’s attention was more keenly focussed on a long corner.
But they played the endgame well, using the incredible speed of Hanfi Hafifihafiz, Misron Azlan and Ahmad Tajudin to devastating effect.
Paul Revington kept a reasonably inexperienced side with Ronan Gormley stepping out of defence with Paul Gleghorne moving in while Chris Cargo and Geoff McCabe in for Andy McConnell and David Ames.
And the hosts had their first shot in anger on just 24 seconds when Brian Doherty’s long overhead found Alan Giles in the circle to whistle a volley over the bar.
Baljit Singh picked up the first suspension of the night in the eighth minute – the first of four cards his side would see to Ireland’s none – but his side took the lead in the 19th minute after an exchange of corners yielded no joy.
It was earned from a typically fast left-wing run. The corner, itself, did not go quite to plan. Muhammad Razie’s spin did not lay the ball up for the intended drag-flicker but he kept possession to tee up Saari Faizal’s precision flick to the top corner.
With the lead, Malaysia reverted to a half-court press and it almost paid dividends when they picked off a loose Irish pass – following a minute of possession with little penetration – but Hafifihafiz scuffed his finish with the goal beckoning.
Ireland were back on terms from their second corner in the 26th minute, Alan Giles sharply controlling Brian Doherty’s corner rebound and batting in a volley.
But parity lasted just a couple of minutes as an Irish mistrap in the attacking 25 saw Faizal pick the ball up show a breathtaking clean pair of heals to burn off three chasers and Izwan Firdaus swept home a simple finish; 2-1 at half-time.
Their evening, though, looked to have turned sour when Nabil Figri was shown the straight red soon after the break. Joe Brennan thought he had levelled from a corner rebound but his effort was disallowed, deemed over shoulder height, after initially being awarded.
The resulting retaken corner was comfortably tipped around the post by the impressive Kalruilnizam. He saved twice more amid a goalmouth melee when Malaysia were down to nine men – Singh taking his second card of the evening.
Peter Caruth’s punch shot bounced Chris Cargo’s way and his swipe was brilliantly blocked back into play but an infringement was called en route and a penalty stroke ensued.
Alan Sothern netted to the left but was ordered to retake, this time switching to his right and garnering the same effect for 2-2 with 17 minutes to go.
The momentum looked likely to all be one way but Malaysia had a breath-taking sucker-punch in store.
Muhammad Razie’s perfectly weighted, 70-metre overhead, was retrieved by Hafifihafiz in the left corner. He picked out Misron Azlan on the circle’s edge who was joined on the flick spot by Ahmad Tajudin and they worked the overload simply for the go-ahead goal.
And they sealed the win in the 59th minute, again from play, when Azlan battered home from the top of the circle.
Ireland created a bit more bedlam in front of Kalruilnizam’s goal, let a fifth corner slip out of their hands while Malaysia endured another yellow card for dissent in the closing stages to end out a lively night in suitable chaotic fashion.
Ireland: Iain Walker, Paul Gleghorne, Brian Doherty, Michael Maguire, Adam Pritchard, Phelie Maguire, Alan Giles, Bruce McCandless, Alan Sothern, Chris Cargo
Subs: Gareth Watkins, Peter Caruth, Peter Blakeney, Jason Lynch, Joe Brennan
Malaysia: Ibrahim Kairuilnizam, Rahim Muhamad Amin, Muhammad Marhan, Madzli Ikmar, Mohamed Sukri, Misron Azlan, Muhamad Razie, Hanfi Hafifihafiz, Baljit Singh, Ahmad Tajudin, Nabil Figri
Subs: Ahmad Kazamirul, Izwan Firdaus, Saari Faizal, Mohan Jivan, Azreen Rizal
Umpires: Kris Cholewa, Kieran Bolger
Saturday, 7pm: Ireland vs Malaysia, Belfield
Sunday, 7pm: Ireland vs Malaysia, Belfield
* Photos from Deryck Vincent