HOCKEY: Ireland women lose narrowly to Spain

Ireland's Megan Frazer who scored against Spain
Ireland's Megan Frazer who scored against Spain

IRELAND 1 SPAIN 2

Spain enjoyed the majority of possession in the 1st quarter but a noticeable change from Friday’s encounter saw no shots struck at McFerran and only a single circle entry by the Red Sticks. Evans was the first of the Irish to cause Spain some trouble as she drove determinedly into the corner and along the base line before crossing on the reverse but the ball was cleared before the danger could develop.

Loose passes and interceptions were again the order of the day but the Green Army looked the more dangerous in the final 25 with both Duke and O’Flanagan powering into the circle more than once. The deadlock was broken when Frazer dragged low and right, out of reach of the diving keeper, from a PC routine. Tice, showing composure and experience beyond her years, wound the clock down in the corner, ensuring the Green Army went into half time 1-0 up.

The third quarter saw plenty an aerial thrown into the Valencia sky but very few chances for either side. Mullan’s shot from a PC was saved, and Smithwick and O’Byrne combined well to prevent a goal at the other end. The physicality of the encounter increased as time wore on and Shirley McCay was the unlucky recipient of a fierce ball to her leg and she played no further part in the action. The Irish defence was forced to regroup without McCay, the most capped female Irish athlete, but Spain took advantage and Magaz beat her marker to deflect the ball goal-ward at the back post. As the game looked set to finish up a draw, thanks to a superb reaction save by Smithwick, the Spanish earned another PC that Riera dispatched low into the right corner in the 57th minute.

The Green Army showed improvements in many areas but will be looking to step up another gear again for Monday’s encounter at 11:30am (GMT).

Ireland: McFerran (GK), O’Bryne, Tice, McCay, Wilson, M Frazer (Captain), Pinder, Daly, Duke, Beatty, Brown, Smithwick (GK), O’Flanagan, Evans, Watkins, G Frazer, Mullan, Meeke.

Match Details (All times GMT):

January 15: Ireland 0 vs 3 Spain 17.30.

January 16: Ireland 1 vs 2 Spain 18.00.

January 18: Ireland vs Spain 11.30

January 19: Ireland vs Spain 11.30