First-half goal blitz extends Ireland’s winning run

THE feelgood factor for Irish hockey continued last night in Belfield as a second quarter blitz saw a sixth win in four days for the country’s senior teams as they beat China 4-2.

Coach Paul Revington had made a full 16 changes to the side who won the Celtic Cup on Sunday.

Debutant Ian Sloan played his part, as Ireland were 4-0 up by half-time. John Jermyn grabbed his 58th international strike with a ripping drag-flick to start the rush in the 18th minute.

Phelie Maguire added the second soon after, a goal crafted from Bruce McCandless’ superb control before squaring finding Timmy Cockram. The Lisnagarvey man squared for Maguire to slide it in from close range.

Mikey Watt shot a flashy reverse for 3-0 and Cockram was left with a simple task for the fourth after Chris Cargo dummied Yongbo Yin to leave an open goal.

The second half was tighter, China grabbing a lifeline from Na Yubo’s scrambled effort.

Yixian Liu’s excellent drag-flick ensured a nervy closing seven minutes but, with an immense showing from Conor Harte, Ireland stayed well clear.

Played in miserable conditions, the game drew one of the largest midweek crowds to the National Hockey Stadium in recent times as the Chinese and Pakistani contingents made their presence felt.

Earlier in the night, France produced somewhat of a surprise when they thumped world number eight side Pakistan 4-2.

Soaking up the pressure, they struck on the counter to build a 3-0 lead inside half an hour.

It was a far cry from the French second string who shipped 16 goals in three Celtic Cup games over the weekend.

IRELAND: D Harte, T Lewis, G McCabe, C Cargo, J Jermyn, I Sloan, M Darling, P Maguire, C Harte, S Loughrey, R Gormley

Subs: M Watt, J Brennan, B McCandless, S O’Donoghue, T Cockram.

CHINA: Y Yin, W Wo, E Liguang, F Lu, X Liu, L Ye, Y Cui, Y Na, L Sun, T Sun, Y Liu

Subs: Z Sun, R Xu, Y Dong, W Ao, W Qui.

UCD 4 Nations Cup: France 4 (J-B Pauchet, T Genestet, O Sanchez, M Catonnet) Pakistan 2 (Rizwan Senior, M Tousiq); Ireland 4 (J Jermyn, P Maguire, M Watt, T Cockram) China 2 (N Yubo, Y Liu)

Standings: 1. Ireland 3pts (+2) 2. France 3pts (+2) 3. China 0pts (-2) 4. Pakistan 0pts (-2).

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