Spanish corner strike deja-vu for Ireland

Senior Women’s International Challenge: Ireland 0 Spain 1 (L Riera)
Ireland fell to a solo penalty corner strike for a second successive 1-0 loss to Spain as Lola Riera’s 45th minute drag-flick did the damage in Belfield.

In a far more entertaining tie than Thursday, openings were more freely available with Shirley McCay going closest for the Irish, seeing her looping flick taken off the line by Sylvia Munoz while Lisa Jacob had a first half effort skim across the face of goal.

But the Spanish visitors had the edge in class and twice hit the post, first through Gloria Comerma’s battered corner strike and then via the stick of Berta Bonastre as she somehow squeezed ball through a melee of legs only to be denied by the metalwork.

For Gene Muller, the lack of goal threat continues to be a concern as four penalty corners went incomplete while clear-cut chances remain at a premium but there were lively phases in the second half.

The decider, though, came after Olalla Pineiro (pictured) produced a brilliant solo run earned the corner which Riera flicked in to the right of Emma Gray.

The goalkeeper came in for Pamela Smithwick in one of two changes as Lizzie Colvin stepped out of the 16 due to injury with Nicci Daly taking her place with Emma Clarke the other player in the stands.

For those who hung around after the final whistle, there was the bonus of seeing the sides practice their penalty one-on-ones. Again, Spain prevailed as the excellent Georgina Oliva was the first to score with the third penalty before Barbara Malda, also on her reverse, helped put Spain in an unassailable 2-0 lead.

They played out the series of five penalties with Aine Connery cracking home Ireland’s fifth effort off her right foot. The sides play the third of this series at 12pm in Belfield on Sunday.

Ireland: E Gray, M Harvey, C Sargent, E Smyth, A Speers, S McCay, L Jacob, J O’Halloran, S McCarthy, A Connery, N Symmons
Subs: N Daly, M Crowley, A O’Flynn, C Watkins, N Small

Spain: I Barguno, R Ybarra, B Bonastre, M Prat, S Munoz, P Dabanch, R Huertas, P Sanchez, A Flores, O Pineiro, B Perez
Subs: Y Menendez, C Petchame, B Malda, G Comerma, G Oliva, M Garcia, L Riera, M Lopez de Eguilaz

Sunday fixture: Ireland v Spain, 12pm, Belfield

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