Ireland secure place in Olympic play-off final

Ireland secure place in Olympic play-off final

Ireland put in a performance of real maturity at the Electric Ireland FIH Road to London to secure the 1-1 draw they needed with Malaysia to advance to a winner-takes-all playoff for Olympic qualification against Korea tomorrow (4pm).

Having bossed the game for long periods but seen their short corner routines falter, Ireland were then hit by a sucker-punch from the Malaysians when a diving Nabil Fiqri redirected Sukri's crash ball home on 40 minutes.

Malaysia had already been happy to dump a lot of long balls to the Irish defence in the hope of forcing an error, and they sat even deeper thereafter knowing they needed three points to advance.

But Ireland never panicked and continued to work the oracle and win the corners, which were mostly thwarted by some Malaysian suicide running until man of the match Jermyn stepped up with 10 minutes to go to roof a trademark drag-flick, his 74th international goal.

Malaysia didn't help themselves as indiscipline saw them down a man for much of the final 12 minutes as Fiqri and Marhan both saw yellow. But Ireland put in a controlled performance to wind the clock down inside the Malaysian 25 and secure the draw they needed.

They will now face Korea - 5-1 winners over Russia yesterday morning - in the decider, knowing they'll need to sharpen up their corner routines having put away just one from seven here.

On the positive side, Ireland's defence was superb throughout with Paul Gleghorne and Andy McConnell shining, while Eugene Magee has hit a rich vein of form and his skills created plenty of dangerous openings for them.

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