Ireland 1 (T Cockram) Scotland 1 (K Bain) Timmy Cockram's goal 30 seconds from full time salvaged a draw for Ireland's men against Scotland at the Investec London Cup yesterday evening, keeping them in good shape to reach Sunday's final.
It was still a comedown, though, after back-to -back wins this week over sides that played in the recent World Cup – England and South Africa – with Scotland ranked 10 places below Ireland in the world.
They struggled to break through the defences of goalkeeper Jamie Cacchia, who had a superb game, while Kenny Bain's 14th-minute goal gave the Scots the lead, firing home on his backhand.
From there, Ireland had a series of penalty corners but could not convert while Scotland could have closed the game out with two big chances in the closing 10 minutes before Cockram tied things up at the death.
It leaves Ireland on four points from their two games to date and a draw against hosts England on Saturday will probably guarantee them a place in Sunday’s final.
Elsewhere, the Irish senior women start their Four Nations campaign on Saturday with an eye-catching date against New Zealand in Belfield. The world number six side are packed with top stars including world player of the year nominee Kayla Whitelock and Anita Punt, who is also a 100 metres national champion.
Irish coach Darren Smith – a New Zealand native – has allowed Emily Beatty, Chloe Brown, Katie Mullan and Ayeisha McFerran from his summer panel of 25 players to travel with the Irish Under-21 panel to Vienna for next week's European championships.
Audrey O'Flynn and Aine Connery are unable to play while Vanessa Surgeoner is a doubt with injury and could be replaced by Naomi Carroll.
Nonetheless, the panel is reasonably settled and looking to build on their Tri-Nations success in Italy a fortnight ago.
The New Zealand game is the first of three round-robin group games that Ireland will play with Chile and Canada the other sides involved in Dublin this week.