Hockey: Ireland unable to hold on to early lead against Argentina
Big improvement on day two of Sultan Azlan Shah Cup not enough to see off opponents
Shane O’Donoghue’s early score gave Ireland false hope against a lethal Argentina side. Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
Ireland 3 (S O’Donoghue, S Murray, E Magee)
Argentina 5 (G Peillat 3, L Vila, J Gilardi)
Ireland put in a marked improvement against Olympic gold medallists Argentina but penalty corners from the world’s deadliest striker saw them succumb to a 5-3 defeat on day two of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia.
On Saturday, Craig Fulton’s side – shy several regulars including goalkeeper David Harte – struggled against hosts Malaysia, falling 4-1.
It came after a three-day acclimatisation process from the Irish winter to 80 per cent humidity and temperatures in the 30s.
A day later, they were much more in tune and led 2-0 inside 16 minutes from sharp Shane O’Donoghue and Sean Murray finishes.
O’Donoghue’s owed much to Murray’s burrowing in from the right of the circle, picking the ball off Juan Vivaldi’s pads before slamming home.
Murray – in an exceptional attacking performance – then won a free and took it on himself before firing an arrow into the top of the next.
Turned things around
Gonzalo Peillat, however, quickly turned things around with a series of penalty corner rockets. Two went straight in either side of a Lucas Vila finish while a third Peillat flick hit a body on the line, allowing Juan Gilardi the chance to slot the penalty stroke.
Trailing 4-2 at half-time, Ireland continued to be the more attacking outfit with a Murray cross somehow intersecting three waiting attackers for a tip in while Eugene Magee blazed over from mid-circle.
Argentina had just five shots on target, however, and all of them went in. Peillat completed his hat-trick before Magee replied with a backhand shot after Jonny McKee’s persistence won the ball and Stephen Cole found the pass.
The endgame should have yielded more as Argentina had three players sin-binned but two rushed Irish penalty corner moves meant no further reduction to the deficit.
Ireland’s next task is a date with England on Tuesday before they meet world number one side Australia on Thursday.
Ireland: M Ingram, J Bell, M Bell, C Cargo, A Sothern, E Magee, K Shimmins, S O’Donoghue, J McKee, P Gleghorne, S Loughrey
Subs: S O’Connor, S Murray, J Dale, M Robson, L Cole, S Cole
Argentina: J Vivaldi, G Peillat, J Gilardi, P Ibarra, S Tarazona, N Salis, M Paredes, L Vila, J Lopez, N Della Torre, L Rossi
Subs: L Masso, D Paz, I Ibarra, A Bugallo, L Gencarelli, T Rodriguez