Back-to-back 4-2 defeats for Ireland in Alcala

International Olive Oil Women’s Three Nations tournament (Alcala, Spain)
Tuesday: Spain 4 (G Oliva 2, A Magaz, C Ycart) Ireland 2 (E Russell 2)
Ireland’s women lost the first of their four games in southern Spain this week in their final warm-weather training camp of a productive 2017, falling to the hosts 4-2.

Cork Harlequins’ Rebecca Barry clipped the post early on before Spain hit the front in the eighth minute via Alicia Magaz at the back post.

Emma Russell equalised on her backhand after Anna O’Flanagan – on her return to the side having missed last month’s series against Scotland – had stolen possession.

Along with O’Flanagan, the vastly experienced Chloe Watkins and Nikki Evans were available again following European club commitments with Lizzie Colvin also coming back in, combining in a team that featured six teenagers.

Gigi Oliva and Clara Ycart, however, stretched the lead out to 3-1 at half-time. Oliva fired home a fourth goal in the second half to extend the advantage.

Russell got a second back for Ireland from Evans and Lena Tice’s approach work while Deirdre Duke had another effort disallowed in the closing stages.

Ireland: G O’Flanagan, J McMaster, Y O’Byrne, N Evans, N Carroll, H McLoughlin, C Watkins (Captain), L Colvin, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson, D Duke
Subs: E Buckley, C Brown, E Getty, E Tice, E Russell, A Meeke, R Barry

Wednesday: Belgium 4 (A Gerniers, J Peeters, S van den Borre, L Versavel) Ireland 2 (L Tice, N Evans)
Nikki Evans scored on her 150th appearance for Ireland but was not able to stop Ireland falling to a second successive 4-2 defeat during their International Olive Oil Three Nations tournament in Alcala in southern Spain.

Alix Gerniers gave Spain the lead from a penalty corner rebound for a 1-0 half-time lead for Belgium. Ireland fought back in the second half and went ahead when Lena Tice deflected in an equaliser before Evans shot home from an acute angle in the 43rd minute.

The European silver medalists, however, struck three times in the last 15 minutes courtesy of Joanne Peeters, Stephanie Van den Borre and Louise Versavel.

It was a much-changed Ireland side from the week’s first date against Spain with Leah McGuire – née Ewart – making her first appearance for the side since her three caps against Wales in 2012. She came in as a late replacement for the injured Ellen Curran for this tour while Chloe Brown had a lively game in her 50th international cap.

Ireland face Spain for a second time this week on Friday before facing the Belgians again on Saturday.

Ireland: E Buckley, J McMaster, Y O’Byrne (captain), N Evans, N Carroll, C Watkins, L Colvin, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson, D Duke, L McGuire
Subs: C Brown, E Getty, E Tice, S Torrans, E Russell, A Meeke

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