HOCKEY: Ireland slip to defeat in opening Spanish test

Zoe Wilson made her debut for Ireland against Spain
Zoe Wilson made her debut for Ireland against Spain
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The first match of 2016 for the Green Army saw Graham Shaw hand senior debuts to Zoe Wilson and Emma Russell, both members of the National Championship winning squad at Syracuse University.

The young side, who were without the experience of Cliodhna Sargent and Hannah Matthews, fell 3-0 to Spain but showed enough to suggest they will grow into this four match series.

The first quarter produced a lively, if not a bit untidy, opening 15 minutes. Both teams drove at one another only to be dispossessed or intercepted before entering the circle. Z

oe Wilson, earning her first cap for the Green Army, twice drove down the left wing to set up her teammates in the circle but the Spanish defence remained resolute.

Spain took advantage of their first real chance and the first goal came courtesy of a route one ball that Garcia deflected past Smithwick.

Ireland were perhaps a bit unlucky to go into half time 2-0 down, the second goal again drilled goal-ward from the edge of the circle by Comerma. Daly, O’Flanagan, Evans and Duke all created chances in the circle but the finished result just eluded them.

The second half was much the same with the Green Army creating chances but unable to convert. Pinder received a pinpoint pass across the circle from Frazer but elected to slip the ball across the face of goal instead of shooting at the oncoming keeper and the Spanish defence swept the ball clear. Carroll arguably came closest to scoring for the girls in green as she deflected a superb ball by Mullan on goal but an impressive double save meant the Spanish retained a clean sheet. The third Spanish goal came courtesy of Olivia late in the final quarter and earned Spain the deserved victory.

The two sides will meet again tomorrow at 6pm (GMT) and the match will again be shown live - via the Irish Hockey website www.hockey.ie.

Squad: O’Bryne, Evans, McCay, M Frazer (Captain), Tice, Pinder, Daly, O’Flanagan, Wilson, Meeke, Smithwick (GK), Mullan, Carroll, Watkins, Russell, Duke, McDonald, McFerran (GK).