Lena Tice struck twice in the closing minutes to nab Ireland a 4-4 draw against Spain, concluding their five-game series in Murcia on a suitably upbeat note.
It saw the Green Army finish with the slight edge over the world and European bronze medalists, winning two, drawing two and losing one of the games.
But, more than anything, coach Sean Dancer was delighted to have some form of competitive action after almost 12 months.
In Sunday’s concluding tie, Spain hit the front early on before Zara Malseed equalised in the second quarter, kick-starting a wild spell of five goals in six minutes.
The Ards woman finished off after Anna O’Flanagan and Deirdre Duke’s pair of shots bounced her way amid some pinball in the circle. It was her third a goal in three games of her first international trip, a super output, particularly considering she was playing with a broken thumb.
She was also a threat further away from goal, a sublime feint and cut inside provided the impetus for Ireland’s second goal, slipping the ball behind the Spanish defence to create a two on one with the goalkeeper. O’Flanagan selflessly laid the ball off to Duke for her fourth goal of the week.
Spain, however, ran riot in between to build a 4-2 lead at the half-time break and it remained that way through the third quarter.
Ireland, though, fought back in the closing stages with a glut of penalty corners. Nicci Daly won one from which Tice gave Ireland a lifeline, her drag-flick taking a deflection at the left post.
And she repeated the trick from a set-piece – won by Roisin Upton – at the end, this time getting an even heavier redirection to wrong-foot the home defence.
The side will hope this camp can set the base for their Olympic push later this year but further confirmed fixtures are currently tricky to come by.
A humidity-focused camp, using the Olympic pitch in Japan, was in the pipeline for March but the current state of emergency in Tokyo has meant the feasibility of that trip is being assessed.