Ireland finished off their series of challenge matches in Valencia with three successive losses with no goals accruing to sound a couple of warning bells for Paul Revington’s men.
They will be buoyed, however, by the return of Irish skipper Ronan Gormley from injury after a couple of weeks off, appearing from the bench against Spain on Monday in the final game of the trip.
On Sunday, Ireland lost their final game against Belgium in an evenly contested match, bouncing back from a 3-0 result in the prior. Both sides had their opportunities in the first half before Thomas Briels won it in the 50th minute with a nice move down the left which David Harte initially saved but was rebounded well.
Monday’s date with Spain was also won in the second half with Pau Quemada shooting home 16 minutes from time from a corner before Pol Amat completed the win inside the last minute from close range.
It left Ireland with one win over Belgium (5-4) and a draw against Spain from their five games in Valencia to add to their pair of GB draws and three losses at the hands of the Dutch since the turn of the year as they sought high quality opposition in the build-up to their Olympic qualifier.
Korea, opponents next month, are in good form at the moment, claiming a five game series win over New Zealand in Auckland yesterday with a 4-3 win in Lloyd Elsmore stadium.
They initially trailed by two games to nil but responded with three successive wins against the emerging Black Sticks to nab the trophy.
Malaysia, meanwhile are in yo-yo form. They beat Australia 5-2 in one of their Perth friendlies only to lose the next game 8-1 before bouncing back next time out to beat the Netherlands on February 5.
Ireland (v Belgium): David Harte, John Jackson, Paul Gleghorne, Conor Harte, Stuart Loughrey, Eugene Magee, Ian Sloan, David Ames, Michael Watt, Gareth Watkins, Mitch Darling
Subs: Chris Cargo, Andy McConnell, Bruce McCandless, Peter Caruth, Peter Blakeney, Timmy Cocrkam, Phelie Maguire
Ireland (v Spain): David Fitzgerald, John Jackson, Richard Sykes, Stuart Loughrey, Bruce McCandless, Eugene Magee, David Ames, Andy McConnell, Michael Watt, Peter Blakeney, Mitch Darling
Subs: Ronan Gormley, Gareth Watkins, Chris Cargo, Timmy Cockram, Ian Sloan