Men’s senior international test match
Ireland 3 (S O’Donoghue 2, S Murray) Pakistan 2 (M A Bilal, M U Bhutta)
Shane O’Donoghue struck a late winner for Ireland as they beat Pakistan 3-2 in their second tie of three at Comber Road in a far more open tie than Thursday night’s draw.
Craig Fulton rang the changes for Ireland with Luke Madeley making his debut in defence while Jamie Carr came in between the posts for the first half and Mark Ingram in pads for the second.
Sam O’Connor, Owen Magee, Drew Carlisle, Paul Gleghorne, Stephen Cole, Peter Caruth and Julian Dale also came into the side as the full panel was tested out.
Ireland scored the opener midway through the first quarter through a Sean Murray screamer with a first time strike as the ball came across the top of the circle that flew past the stranded Pakistan keeper into the roof of the net.
Pakistan made a few good chances of their own in response and Carr needed to make some fine interceptions to keep Ireland’s noses ahead while Madeley enjoyed a strong performance.
Pakistan got their equaliser somewhat fortuitously from the penalty spot after a goal bound shot caught a defenders body on route to goal. Ireland appealed that the goalkeeper was still to be beaten but the award stood and was despatched by Muhammad Umar Bhutta for 1-1 at half time.
The third quarter started at a great pace and just a couple of minutes after the restart a flowing move involving a rejuvenated Peter Caruth carved open the Pakistani defence.
Caruth off-loaded to O’Donoghue at the top of the circle who stepped inside and flashed the ball across goal on his reverse and it took a deflection into the roof of the net.
From that point on, Pakistan dominated possession in the quarter but Ireland’s defence held firm; 2-1 Ireland at the end of the quarter.
The fourth quarter was quite quiet until Pakistan conjured up an equaliser from a bit of slick passing around the Ireland defence. Muhammad Umar Bhutta found himself unmarked at the far post for the simplest of tap-ins to a ball driven hard across the Irish circle.
But Ireland won a final short corner and although the set-piece did not go quite to plan, some great improvisation from O’Donoghue saw him score the winner after dancing around a couple of Pakistan defenders for a late 3-2 lead.
Speaking afterwards, O’Donoghue said: “They are a dangerous team and Thursday was a tester to see where they were at. Today we got away with a few of their purple patches but I think we defended extremely well, especially with two young goalkeepers coming in to fill the big boots of Davey Harte.
“Overall, in those games when you are under pressure, it’s how well you defend. We gave a few sloppy corners away and some chances but, in general, I thought we should resilience and dug deep in defence.”
Ireland saw the game out without any further scares for the win that puts them in a good position to win the series with the final match on Sunday afternoon at 2pm, again at Comber Road.
“These games are important,” O’Donoghue added. “We had a tough outing in Bisham Abbey last week but it’s good to get three games against a top opposition and then go on to the Hamburg Masters with our selected team. It’s going to be a busy summer but we are really looking to kick on from a historic summer last year and make sure we do the best we can.”
Ireland: J Carr, J Jackson, M Bell, A Sothern, C Cargo, M Nelson, D Carlisle, S O’Donoghue, S Loughrey, P Gleghorne, P Caruth
Subs: M Ingram, S O’Connor, O Magee, S Murray, S Cole, L Madeley, J Dale
Pakistan: A Amjad, M A Bilal, T Abbas, M Irfan Jr, A Khan, A Shan, A Ahmad, N Ashfaq, M U Bhutta, A S Butt, M Yaqoob
Subs: M Mushtaq, M Rizwan Jr, A Mahmood, M A Qadir, M Dilber