Ireland well beaten by Malaysia in Olympic hockey qualifier

Men’s side struggle defending set pieces in Belgium

Malaysia 4 Ireland 2

Ireland could not stage a comeback in the second match of their Olympic Qualifying tournament in Belgium.

Having drawn 2-2 with Britain in their first game after going behind, Ireland didn’t have the game to chase down Malaysia, who deservedly won the match from the front.

While Ireland hit the crossbar twice in the match, they fell behind in the 13th minute when Izwan put Malaysia ahead from their first penalty corner after some scrappy Irish defence.

The Malaysian set pieces were a menace to Ireland throughout the match and in the end they scored three of their goals from corners.


Three Rock Rovers' Mitch Darling cracked in a back hand equaliser from play on 14 minutes to draw Ireland level 1-1 as the first quarter drew to a close.

But Malaysia were always threatening, especially on the counter attack, and minutes after the restart a low right flick from captain Rahim at the second penalty corner put them ahead once again.

Again hard-working Ireland hit back, this time from the first Irish set piece with Shane O’Donoghue dragging it low and right at 127 km/h for 2-2.

Malaysia, playing a fast attacking game, earned their fourth and fifth corners and once again they made them count, the initial shot from the fifth effort rebounding off goalkeeper David Harte’s pads and Mutalib diving in to clean up past him and the Irish line men for 3-2.

Harte was then forced to save a penalty as Malaysia went through their best phase of the match. But again another Asian counter-attack sealed Irish fate as Izwan collected and spun in the circle before flicking into an empty net for 4-2 with just five minutes remaining.

Ireland must regroup now and earn a result against China in their third match on Friday. A top four place in the pool is a must for Ireland if they are to keep Rio hopes alive. The higher the team finishes in the pool, the lower the team they face in the first of the crossover games.