Second quarter magic sees Ireland beat China

UCD 4 Nations Cup: Ireland 4 (J Jermyn, P Maguire, M Watt, T Cockram) China 2 (N Yubo, Y Liu)
The feel-good factor for Irish hockey continued as the men extended their unbeaten run to eight games in 2011 – and a fourth win in four days – as they produced four scintillating goals in the second quarter to beat China, backing up the Irish women’s double delight at the weekend.

Belfield was rocking as a large Pakistani contingent from the early game was joined by flag-bearing Chinese fans as the teeming rain saw people huddle up under the main stand.

Coach Paul Revington had made a full 16 changes to the side who won the Celtic Cup a day earlier. Included in the changes was 17 year-old Cookstown man Ian Sloan who made his debut, following in the footsteps of his father Marty who captained Ireland over 100 times.

He started on the right of midfield while Stu Loughrey and Shane O’Donoghue were the other youngsters involved, the former starting at left-back and defending particularly well.

A fast and furious opening yielded few chances as the Chinese – currently ranked five places above Ireland in the world list – showed some sharp touches in the clinches.

Two red corners were charged down in the 16th minute before Watt turned the tables, winning a set-piece at the far end. John Jermyn provided a wonderful finish for the lead.

Phelie Maguire made it 2-0 six minutes later, owing a huge amount to Bruce McCandless’ finely judged control, weaving some space just outside the 25.

With base-line runners on either post, the Banbridge man picked out Timmy Cockram on the right who squared to the left where Maguire slide in to score from close range.

Mikey Watt made it three with a solo goal, using Maguire as a foil to dodge to his left and flash a brilliant reverse from the top of the circle.

And, in the 34th minute, Cockram finished off another excellent build-up. Chris Cargo continued his excellent form, using soft hands to take in a long pass and take Yongbo Yin on, one-on-one.

He dummied the keeper on his forehand before rolling it behind his back across the circle for the Lisnagarvey man who still had plenty to do but finished with aplomb, reversing past the lone covering defender.

China made a good fight of it in the second half and grabbed a lifeline when Na Yubo’s scrambled effort following Long Sun’s auto-pass from the left wing. Jermyn smacked the crossbar with his second drag while another McCandless piece of magic almost created a fifth.

But China closed the match much stronger. Yixian Liu’s excellent drag-flick ensured a nervy closing seven minutes but, with an immense showing from Conor Harte, Ireland stayed clear.

Ireland: D Harte, T Lewis, G McCabe, C Cargo, J Jermyn, I Sloan, M Darling, P Maguire, C Harte, S Loughrey, R Gormley
Subs: M Watt, J Brennan, B McCandless, S O’Donoghue, T Cockram
China: Y Yin, W Wo, E Liguang, F Lu, X Liu, L Ye, Y Cui, Y Na, L Sun, T Sun, Y Liu
Subs: Z Sun, R Xu, Y Dong, W Ao, W Qui

France 4 (J-B Pauchet, T Genestet, O Sanchez, M Catonnet) Pakistan 2 (Rizwan Senior, M Tousiq)
France produced somewhat of a surprise when they thumped world number eight side Pakistan 4-2 in the UCD 4 Nations Cup opening tie.

Soaking up plenty of pressure, they struck on the counter to build a 3-0 lead by the 41st minute and Pakistan – who rested world record goal-scorer Sohail Abbas – never got within range.

It was a far cry from the French second string who shipped 16 goals in three Celtic Cup games over the weekend as they were sharp at both ends, stifling the Asian side’s creativity. Jean-Baptiste Pauchet got the first when he poked past Salman Akbar with Tom Genestet’s left-wing ball in the impetus.

Creator turned scorer in the 32nd minute as a series of corners were cleared but the follow-up long corner was worked to the near post, squared and Genestet gleefully volleyed home.

The third was the pick of the day, Pauchet working well with the ball patrol to take a quick sideline ball and caught Pakistan unawares. His through ball was timed perfectly to match the run of Olivier Sanchez who struck first time at full tilt in the 40th minute. Muhammad Rizwan responded instantly, a sharp reverse-stick rebound after Shakeel Abbasi’s initial incursion.

But any comeback was cut short when Matthieu Catonnet grabbed a fairly tame goal for the French, poking home from one yard after Fabien Magner’s shot squeezed under Akbar’s pads.

Muhammad Tousiq’s drag reared up off Henri Lhomme’s pads to the top corner for 4-2 with 14 minutes remaining but, while Muhammad Zubair and Rizwan were both denied, France held up reasonably well.

Bastien Dierckens also took one off the line, perhaps knowing little about it but his stick bunted the ball over the bar to keep two goals in the margin.

UCD 4 Nations Cup: France 4 (J-B Pauchet, T Genestet, O Sanchez, M Catonnet) Pakistan 2 (Rizwan Senior, M Tousiq); Ireland 4 (J Jermyn, P Maguire, M Watt, T Cockram) China 2 (N Yubo, Y Liu)
Standings: 1. Ireland 3pts (+2) 2. France 3pts (+2) 3. China 0pts (-2) 4. Pakistan 0pts (-2)

Fixture schedule:
China vs Pakistan, 6pm; France vs Ireland, 8pm
Friday: France vs China, 12.30pm; Pakistan vs Ireland, 8pm

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