Ireland’s men suffered a narrow 2-1 defeat to New Zealand in their opening Champions Challenge I match in Kuantan, Malaysia today.

New coach Craig Fulton’s side put in a solid performance against a New Zealand side ranked nine places higher in the world rankings at number six, having gone behind to the Blacksticks after just 11 minutes with Steve Edwards converting from open play.

Ireland equalised four minutes later after a superb conversion from Alan Sothern. 

The match-winning strike for New Zealand came in the 41st minute when Hugo Inglis pounced on a penalty-corner rebound.

Commenting afterwards, Fulton said: "I am proud of the effort put in by my players today.  Tough conditions and the players came through well. 

“We are looking for continuous improvement and this was a positive start."

Ireland’s next match is against Poland tomorrow, followed by Japan on Tuesday in their final group game.