Men’s Four Nations tournament
Ireland 2 (D Walsh, M Darling) England 1 (L Taylor)
Alexander Cox’s tenure as Irish men’s coach got off to a great start with a 2-1 win over higher-ranked England in Valencia.
Three Rock Rovers duo Daragh Walsh and Mitch Darling were on the mark in the third quarter, putting Ireland two clear before Luke Taylor got one back from a penalty corner.
They held firm to land the win in what was Cox’s first game one the sideline since taking over from Craig Fulton in August.
He had downplayed the importance of the tie in the lead-up due to the short turnaround time from games in the German and Belgian league.
Indeed, he rested Paul Gleghorne, Michael Robson and Matthew Bell, leaving a space empty on the matchday team sheet as they had all been part of a double-weekend with Krefeld.
Nonetheless, Ireland had the pick of the first half chances against the world number seven side with Shane O’Donoghue missing a penalty stroke before the break.
Walsh clipped home a reverse in the 33rd minute before Darling finished off from Eugene Magee’s assist to create a strong lead before Taylor halved the deficit.
Ireland play Spain on Tuesday in their second game of the competition.
The Spaniards impressed in a 2-1 win over the Netherlands in their opening game.
Elsewhere, the Irish Under-23 women’s side beat Spain 3-2 in Terrassa, coming from behind to get the result.
Amy Elliott’s goal just before half-time ensured it was honours even before Katherine Egan and a late winner from Jessic McMaster saw them over the line.
It was an Irish underage girls team of any description’s first win over Spain since 2005. The two sides meet again on Wednesday and then again on Thursday.
Four Nations tournament (all in Valencia)
Monday: Ireland 2 (D Walsh, M Darling) England 1 (L Taylor)
Tuesday: Ireland v Spain, 5.30pm (Irish time)
Under-23 test match (Terrassa): Spain 2 Ireland 3 (A Elliott, K Egan, J McMaster)