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Dowds hits thunderbolt as Irish run up a big victory

By Graham Hamilton

Banbridge's Stephen Dowds wrote his name into World Hockey League 3 records yesterday afternoon when he scored the fastest penalty corner of the tournament in Antwerp - an astonishing 126mph.

Dowds stepped up to score the final goal for Ireland as they romped to a 6-0 success over China to achieve their first objective - a place in the quarter-finals with one pool game to spare.

That's the good news, as their hopes of reaching the Rio Olympics remain alive.

But the bad news is that they are likely to finish fourth in their pool unless they can beat hosts and top seeds in Pool B, Belgium, tomorrow afternoon (5.00pm) - fourth would mean the worst possible quarter-final opponents, world champions Australia, who are likely to win Pool A.

However, it's possible Malaysia could upset Great Britain or Belgium in their final games and the Irish could leapfrog a place if they get a positive result against Belgium.

The Irish finally came good yesterday and it was three goals in a blistering four-minute spell in the second quarter that paved the way .

Alan Sothern put away the first from a tight angle and also the second after a great run by Ulsterman John Jackson.

Peter Caruth got the third when he finished off a run from fellow Ulsterman Michael Watt to leave it 3-0 at half-time and that was followed by three more in the second half.

Ronan Gormley converted a penalty corner, Sothern got his hat-trick by slotting in Watt's cross and then came that penalty corner rocket from Dowds.

'Keeper David Harte was stretchered off with a neck injury but hopes are high that he'll recover for tomorrow's game.

YESTERDAY'S RESULTS: Pool A: Pakistan 2 India 2, Australia 4 Poland 0. Pool B: Ireland 6 China 0, Malaysia 0 Belgium 2

TODAY: rest day

TOMORROW: Pool A: Pakistan v France, India v Australia. Pool B: Malaysia v Great Britain, Belgium v Ireland (5pm).

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