Ireland stung late as Malaysia hit them hard on the counter-attack

Craig Fulton’s men finished a creditable fourth at the Champions Challenge I

Ireland's men finished a creditable fourth at the Champions Challenge I as their experimental side fell 4-2 to hosts Malaysia in the bronze medal match in Kuantan yesterday.

Having started horribly against the Tigers, goals from Paul Gleghorne and Chris Cargo got Ireland back level at 2-2 and were looking the side more likely to edge the tie.

But while applying late pressure they were stung twice in the closing four minutes as Azlan Misron and Fitri Ashari struck counter-attack goals to snatch the win.

Nonetheless, it was a generally productive outing as Ireland outdid their pre-tournament ranking, finishing only behind two sides bound for this summer’s World Cup and tournament surprise package Canada.

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Craig Fulton’s squad selection raised eyebrows pre-tournament, bringing in uncapped 31-year-old Maurice Elliott along with several other untested faces.

Playing in front of a crowd of 10,000 in sweltering conditions will certainly have done them no harm, with this tournament providing the first building block for the 2016 Olympic qualification process.

Next on the agenda is a training trip to Spain, with Fulton anticipating that several of the unavailable players from this trip will return to put their names forward for selection.