Ireland feel the heat at Sultan Azlan Shah opener

Sultan Azlan Shah Cup
Ireland 1 (K Shimmins) Malaysia 4 (R Rahim 3, T Tajuddin)
With just a few days of acclimitisation time and a 30 degree swing in temperature, perhaps a slow start was to be predicted as the first three quarters of Ireland’s maiden Sultan Azlan Shah Cup proved a tough outing.

A hat-trick from Razie Rahim and a tap-in from Tengku Tajuddin could have been augmented further but for a string of top saves from Jamie Carr and one off the line from Johnny Bell.

Razie Rahim celebrates the first of his three goals. Pic: Malaysia Hockey Confederation

A semblance of Irish ability was shown in the final quarter – capped by Kirk Shimmins’ wonderful hit – and limited the damage ahead of Sunday’s date with Olympic gold medalists Argentina.

Craig Fulton’s side did win a corner in the first 15 seconds with Shane O’Donoghue’s drag charged down. Malaysia, with their trademark hard-running counter game, soon found their stride, using midfield turnovers to propel them forward.

Rahim was the first to cut loose, reading a spin in midfield to nick the ball and he raced forward 40-metres and got enough lift on his shot on the run to lift over the sliding Carr.

On nine minutes, Marhan Jalil wriggled out of some tackles and got the ball across. An unceremonious Irish push on the near post created plenty of scope for a stroke to be given – or a call for a Malaysian foot – but the ball fell to Tajuddin to finish off. A long video review said no need to change the outcome.

Carr kept out a corner late in the quarter and then made three saves in quick succession in the second quarter but Rahim did rip in a 24th minute corner for 3-0 at half-time.

Into the second half, Bell batted away at the left post from a third corner, Carr booted away another while another set-piece went into the net off Paul Gleghorne’s back but was annulled for danger.

Rahim, though, completed his hat-trick on the 44 minute mark with a low push down the stick-side. That came while Ireland were down to nine men as a mistake in trying to sub on a player during a corner, seeing Chris Cargo join Matthew Bell in the bin.

The call from Craig Fulton in the third quarter huddle was to keep plugging away – “two goals and shut the back door” – and they did rally. A first shot for 36 minutes arrived with ten minutes left before Shimmins got Ireland on the board, chipping and charging before shooting early off his right foot in mid-air.

Three incomplete corners came in the last five minutes with Othman Hafizuddin staying strong while the returning Eugene Magee miscued his switch-flick.

Ireland next face Argentina on Sunday with the game available to watch on the FIH Youtube channel for €0.99.

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

Malaysia: H Abd Rahman, M Jalil, Fitri Saari, Faizal Saari, N Noor, R Rahim, F Jali, A Hassan, T Tajuddin, A Nik Rozemi, N Jazlan,
Subs: O Hafizuddin, N Sumantri, J van Huizen, S Syed Cholan, F Ashari, A Hasan, S Saabah

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