Today’s Sultan Azlan Shah Cup match between England and Ireland was an unusual one, as it was the setting for a battle between brothers.
It was older brother Mark who came away with the bragging rights, as England registered a 4-1 victory to get their first win of the tournament.
Originally from Antrim, Northern Ireland, the brothers have been facing off against each other for around five years.
“It’s our first in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, but we have played against each other about 15 times. It’s just like any other game now,” Mark told Malay Mail when met after the game.
“It used to be weird playing against Paul, but it’s different now as both of us are playing at the back. We don’t really come across each other on the pitch.”
The brothers are close, and Paul explained that they did meet up for a chat before the match.
However, once the whistle blows, victory is all that matters.
“We do talk to each other before the game. We would say hello or have a chat in the hotel.
“But, once we’re on the pitch it’s all business for the both of us,” he said with a smile.
Older brother Mark represented Ireland 80 times before switching to the England and Great Britain setup in 2011.
The 32-year-old has also notched up 48 caps for Great Britain and 88 caps for England — including the three matches at this year’s Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
Meanwhile, today’s match was Paul’s 196th appearance as a fixture in the green and white heart of Ireland’s defence.
Both brothers said that their father would be watching them play back home.
Mark said that their father wore both sons jerseys on top of each other.
“It’s early morning back home but he might get up to watch us play. I don’t know who he would be supporting because I would say me and Paul would say him!” Mark said.
“It’s always tougher for him when we play against each other. But, he is proud of both of us,” he added.
Despite the scoreline, the match was tightly-contested.
Barry Middleton opened the scoring for the English in the 15th minute after a well-worked set-piece before Sam Ward slid in to fire home a good Phil Roper pass in the 37th minute.
Ireland pulled a goal back two minutes later from a Julian Dale penalty corner before Ward and Middleton doubled their tallies in the 51st and 60th minute respectively.
The brothers are expected to be in action for two tough matches tomorrow, as England face Argentina while Ireland play Australia.
Read more at http://www.themalaymailonline.com/sports/article/battle-between-brothers-in-sas-cup#1WyVxSX8GCrGdRRm.99