Ireland survive physical contest to beat WL2 hosts

Hockey World League Round 2
Ireland 2 (C Watkins, A O’Flanagan) Malaysia 1 (H Onn)

Ireland’s women survived a major scare from hosts Malaysia to record their second win of World League Round2 in Kuala Lumpur as goals from Chloe Watkins and Anna O’Flanagan earned a 2-1 win.

But they did have to survive a couple of late penalty corners and a series of sin-binnings as the hosts – ranked five places below Ireland in the world – gave as good as they got in a physical encounter.

Speaking about the tie, coach Shaw told The Hook: “It was a very intense and frantic game at times. We are very happy with the result but feel we didn’t play as well as we know we can.”

Watkins, captain for the day, opened the scoring in the sixth minute from a swift counter-attack, sweeping past the outstretched goalkeeper Farah Ayuni Yahya.

Anna O'Flanagan on the attack. Pic: Malaysia Hockey Confederation

Anna O’Flanagan on the attack. Pic: Malaysia Hockey Confederation

Malaysia responded in kind, winning four corners before the break and pinned Ireland back for spells as Yvonne O’Byne saw a yellow card while Zoe Wilson and Rebecca Barry also spent time in the sin-bin.

Hanis Nadiah Onn saw her powerful shot padded away by goalkeeper Ayeisha McFerran in the 42nd minute and Malaysia captain Siti Noor Amarina’s penalty drive in the 49th minute was well saved by McFerran once again.

Ireland, however, silenced the home fans with a 51st minute field goal from Anna O’Flanagan to go 2-0 up. Onn, however, ensured there was a nervy finish for the green army but they just about prevailed.

Speaking afterwards, Irish coach graham Shaw said it was a huge battle for his side.

“I’m surprised that Malaysia is ranked 21 in the world as they played very well, good set of players with great individual skills and should give every team they meet after this a tough fight. They should make it to the semi-finals.

“The game was incredibly physical and we matched up well with it but we felt some of the cards were unjustified but we are happy sitting top of the pool and looking forward to playing Hong Kong. We will respect them as we do every other team but focus on our own performance.”

The win followed a 12-0 success against Kazakhstan. Ireland now need just a draw against Hong Kong – who drew with Kazakhstan – to top their group and earn a simpler route to the tournament final.

Ireland: A McFerran, Y O’Byrne, C Sargent, N Evans, K Mullan, S McCay, C Watkins, L Colvin, N Daly, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson
Subs: L Tice, N Carroll, G Pinder, R Upton, H Matthews, R Barry

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