HOCKEY: Ireland slump to 3-1 defeat against Spain in series finale

Ireland's Maurice Elliott.
Ireland's Maurice Elliott.

It was a disappointing end to the three-match series for the Green Machine as they lost 3-1 to Spain.

The squad, a mix of youth and experience, was without no fewer than eight of their European bronze medallists.

Ireland went a goal down in the opening minutes and Ireland’s two big chances of the first half came within minutes of each other as Maurice Elliot’s reverse shot skimmed past the post and Timmy Cockram’s penalty corner drag drew a diving save.

Spain held control and appeared to step up another gear as they scored their second goal, with the ball driven along the baseline and passed back to the waiting striker, who swept it home.

In the last moments of Q3, Jonny Bruton expertly turned on the defender to set up the reverse shot in the ‘D’ where a perfectly positioned Gareth Watkins fired it home.

Spain scored their third goal to make it 3-1 and two late penalties for Ireland yielded no reward as the clock wound down.

Ireland will next travel to South Africa for warm weather training in January, where they will face several higher ranked opponents.

Coach Craig Fulton said: “These three games against Spain are very important for us moving forward into 2016. We played well in some phases in each game but not well enough for 60 minutes.

“We’re now looking forward to our preparation phase in South Africa.”