Green Army bounce back in impressive style in Malaga

Women’s Senior International series
Game two: Ireland 2 (Mullan, Tice) Spain 0
Katie Mullan and Lena Tice struck to earn Ireland a 2-0 win over Spain in Malaga on Thursday for a rejuvenating win over higher ranked opposition.

Indeed, it was a remarkable turnaround in fortunes in the wake of a chastening 7-0 loss to the same opposition on Tuesday when Ireland conceded four times in the last 11 minutes.

The series marks the first international tests for Ireland since November while the Spanish squad are recently back from a series against world number five Australia, themselves in the midst of their Commonwealth Games preparations.

The pace of today’s encounter was significantly higher throughout and Ireland put the hosts under pressure from the opening whistle with Deidre Duke winning a penalty corner inside the first two minutes.

The shot drew a superb save from Maria Helguera in the Spanish goal. Soon after, Aisling Naughton was unlucky not to get on the scoreboard ticking following a pinpoint pass from Nikki Evans.

Spain grew into the game as the half went on with Berta Bonastre looking a threat as she linked up with Begona Garcia but rigid Irish defending kept any real chances to a minimum.

The opening goal came in the 29thminute as sharp passing down the left found Gillian Pinder who sent a cross-field ball into the circle for a diving Katie Mullan to touch goalward.

Ireland dominated much of the second half with Zoe Wilson and the experienced Shirley McCay filtering passes through the Spanish line to awaiting Irish targets.

The deserved second goal came courtesy of a penalty stroke from Lena Tice; awarded following a well-worked penalty corner routine that was stopped on the line by the body of a Spanish defender.

Grace O’Flanagan made some impressive saves as the Spanish pushed for goals in the final 10 minutes, winning one PC that was well defended by the Green Army.

Speaking afterwards, head coach Graham Shaw said: “We’re really happy with that response from the team following on from the disappointment of Tuesday’s result.

“We must build on the performance and carry it forward throughout the camp. We played a lot quicker today, at international pace, which allowed us to play out the game. We now need to build on that platform for Saturday and Sunday’s fixtures”.

The third game of the series takes place on Saturday at 12pm (Irish time).

Ireland Game 2 line-up: G O’Flanagan, H Matthews, L McGuire, L Tice, R Upton, Z Wilson, G Pinder, K Mullan (Captain), D Duke, A Naughton, S Torrans
Subs: E Buckley, Y O’Byrne, S McCay, L Colvin, R Barry, N Evans, E Russell

Game one: Ireland 0 Spain 7 (B Bonastre 2, B Garcia 2, L Riera, M Garcia, L Jimenez)
In game one, Spain were the dominant force throughout. They very nearly opened the scoring inside the first 90 seconds when a goalmouth scramble from their first penalty corner saw the ball go in but the umpire disallowed the effort.

In the third minute, Lucia Jimenez swept home from close range to give the hosts the lead. The lead was doubled by Berta Bonastre in the 10th minute as she slotted home from close range following a darting run along the baseline into the circle.

The Green Army came out stronger in the second half, holding more of the possession with Deidre Duke and Lloyd gliding into the circle to draw the save from Melanie Garcia.

Bonastre got her second goal courtesy of a stroke high into the right corner following a shot stopped on the line by an Irish body. The Spanish put the game to rest with four goals in the final quarter with Begona Garcia scoring twice on her reverse, Lola Riera with a powerful corner drag flick and a well-worked field goal from Maialen Garcia in the final minute.

Ireland game one line-up: G O’Flanagan, Z Wilson, L Tice, S McCay, L Colvin, R Upton, G Pinder, K Mullan, N Carroll, N Evans, K Lloyd
Subs: C Cassin, H Matthews, Y O’Byrne, A Meeke, E Beatty, C Brown, D Duke

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