Anna O’Flanagan’s goal three minutes from time saw Ireland’s women snatch a thrilling 3-2 comeback win over Spain, earning a share of the spoils from their four-match series in Malaga.
Following a 3-1 loss on Saturday, Graham Shaw’s side looked on course to lose the series when they trailed 2-0 yesterday to goals from Carmen Cano and Lola Riera.
But this trip has revealed plenty of character — bouncing back from a 7-0 loss first up to win game two 2-0 — and the Irish girls got a lifeline when O’Flanagan slapped in a goal, mopping up after Hannah Matthews’ half-hit shot.
Skipper Katie Mullan then stole the ball in the press before slamming home on her backhand from the top of the circle to make it 2-2 with 13 minutes to go. Then, with just a few minutes left, Shirley McCay arrowed a corner switch move from left to right for O’Flanagan to slide onto and guide into the net.
As such, it was a mixed bag from the Green Army but Shaw will be pleased with the manner in which his side bounced back against a Spanish side ranked five places above them in the world.
Next on Ireland’s agenda is a two-game series in Scotland in March as preparations continue for the World Cup in July.
On home turf, Catholic Institute’s 4-1 win over Limerick on Friday night was negated by UCC’s 5-0 win over Ashton.
It means the two clubs remain locked at the top on 27 points, with the students having a game in hand.
In the men’s EY Hockey League, Cork C of I almost pulled off the shock of the season but eventually had to settle for a 2-2 draw with leaders Glenanne. In a brilliant affair, featuring wave after wave of counter-attack, the Glens led through a controversial Gary Shaw goal.
Mark Gallagher levelled, finding the smallest of gaps past the superb Iain Walker from a narrow-angle. John Jermyn then whipped home a low drag-flick for a 2-1 lead. There were chances to move further clear but Glenanne are masters of digging in and they nicked yet another point in the last five minutes with Shane O’Donoghue tying the game up.
For C of I, the point is nonetheless a very useful one on the road, putting daylight between them and Cookstown in the relegation playoff spot.
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