Cole heats up Ireland in Malaysia as domestic games hope to thaw out

Sultan Azlan Shah Cup
Ireland 3 (S O’Donoghue, S Murray, L Cole) India 2 (R Singh, A Rohidas)
After a rough opening four games, Ireland ground out a morale-boosting 3-2 win over world number six side India at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia.

Lee Cole slid in to get the winner in the third quarter from a cleverly disguised Shane O’Donoghue penalty corner move.

Earlier, Ireland had trailed twice, firstly to Ramandeep Singh’s touch to an early corner. O’Donoghue levelled in exquisite style from Kirk Shimmins’ under-the-arm pass from Chris Cargo’s initial pump into the circle.

Amit Rohidas restored the Indian advantage, making it 2-1 at half-time but Ireland showed real guts in the Ipoh heat and humidity.

Shimmins delivered a bouncing ball from the right that evaded the Indian defender at the front post, allowing Sean Murray to get in front of his man to tap home.

Murray – a stand-out performer this week along with Shimmins – then won the corner from which the winner came.

There was defending to do in the closing quarter but the defensive unit did well to shut down a set piece with four minutes to go to secure the win.

Craig Fulton’s side had lost their first four games, conceding 17 times, against sides primarily in the closing phases of Commonwealth Games preparation.

For Ireland, the series is more developmental as Fulton looks to widen his panel for November’s World Cup.

Ireland will now look to finish on a high on Saturday morning in the fifth-sixth place playoff game against the Indians once again (7.30am, Irish time).

On the domestic front, Three Rock Rovers will play Railway Union in a back match in the EY Hockey League. For Rovers, Conor Quinn comes in for Jamie Carr who is currently with the national team in Malaysia in what is their first league game since February 11.

Railway, meanwhile, come into the game off the back of their 3-2 result against Cookstown with Aran Rooney back in the line-up after a spell in Australia.

Pembroke II, meanwhile, take on Banbridge II in the Irish Junior Cup semi-final after they were reinstated. Lisnagarvey eliminated Pembroke in a shoot-out but were deemed to have played an ineligible player, giving Pembroke their second chance.

In Leinster Division One, Corinthian meet UCD in a huge game at Whitechurch Park early in the day at 11.45am. Both are level on points – along with YMCA – with the reds having the slight advantage of a game in hand.

As such, avoiding defeat is paramount for Trevor Dagg’s side if they are to win the provincial crown for a third successive sason. But they will have their hands full from a student side featuring Jazze Henry, the innovation of Andrew Ramsay and Dutch Erasmus student Joran Schulte.

For Corinthian, Ian Stewart has been banging in the goals while Davy Howard is another top corner option in a dynamic side. YM have a tricky task on the road at Kilkenny.

To take into account last weekend’s snowed off fixtures, the games from March 3 will now be played on April 7 unless sides wish to bring the games forward. This is the same for all leagues down to Division 6 while Division 7 will now finish on April 14.

Ireland: J Carr, J Bell, C Cargo, E Magee, K Shimmins, S O’Donoghue, J Dale, M Robson, P Gleghorne, L Cole, S Loughrey
Subs: M Bell, S O’Connor, S Murray, J McKee, M Ingram, S Cole

Men’s weekend fixtures (all Saturday)
EY Hockey League: Three Rock Rovers v Railway Union, 3pm, Grange Road
Leinster Division 1: Kilkenny v YMCA, 2pm, Kilkenny College; Corinthian v UCD, 11.45am, Whitechurch Park; Rathgar v Dublin University, 12.30pm, High School; Weston v Avoca, 1.15pm, Griffeen Valley Park; Dublin North v Clontarf, 3pm, NSC

Munster Division 1: Limerick v Bandon, Villiers, 1pm.

Irish Junior Cup, semi-final: Pembroke II v Banbridge II, 12.20pm, Serpentine Avenue

Corinthian meet UCD in a cruical Leinster Division One tie. Pic: Adrian Boehm

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