Spain took an early lead in the 7th minute when Cristina Guinea snuck in front of her marker to poke the ball awkwardly past the diving Grace O’Flanagan. Spain won two further quick corners followed by one for the Green Army. Upton’s drag flick was blocked and the ball bobbled back to her but her effort to get the ball over the oncoming keeper zipped over the crossbar. The equaliser came in the 22nd minute as Upton’s drag was again blocked by quick Spanish defensive runners but Katie Mullan was on hand to force the ball across the goal from the post where Anna O’Flanagan swept it home from close range, just reward for O’Flanagan earning her 150th cap today. But a lapse in concentration saw the Spanish retake the lead just 2 minutes later as the ball fell to Maria Tost who slapped it into the far corner of the goal.
O’Flanagan was again on hand to bring Ireland back onto level terms as a skilful spin and pass by Nikki Evans saw O’Flanagan tuck it past Maria Ruiz. Again, Spain had a reply within 2 minutes as a long ball evaded the entire Irish defence to find Carlota Petchame free in the circle, she spun around O’Flanagan to slot into an open goal. Unfortunately for the Irish the Spanish penalty corner routines were firing on all cylinders and Lola Riera scored twice in the space of 3 minutes to make it 5-2. Katie Mullan and O’Flanagan were still trying to puncture the Spanish defence and a couple of shots zipped wide but in the energy sapping heat and humidity Ireland couldn’t find their way back into the game. Spain, notably 6 places higher than Ireland in the world rankings, solidified their victory further as Marta Segu took advantage of an overturned decision and caught the Irish off guard. Rocio Ybarra, the Spanish stalwart playing her final game, made it 7-2 from a PC in the final minute.
Graham Shaw, head coach, was understandably disappointed with the final result “The most disappointing thing is the soft nature of the goals that we conceded, particularly very early after we scored, we never really gave ourselves that platform to build on. We’ll have a look within and see what’s gone wrong, but it’s not from lack of effort or preparation”.
The Green Army will retain their position in A Division despite the loss, as Czech Republic beat Scotland 1-0 later in the day, meaning Ireland finish second in Pool C.
The Green Machine have their final match tomorrow (August 27th) against Austria at 10am (Irish time).
Photo credit: World Sport Pics
Ireland: G O’Flanagan, Y O’Byrne, K Mullan (Captain), S McCay, E Tice, G Pinder, C Watkins, N Daly, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson, D Duke
Subs: C Cassin, N Evans, E Beatty, R Upton, S Loughran, H Matthews, A Meeke
Spain: R Ybarra (Captain), M Lopez, B Bonastre, C Cano, M Garcia, M Ruiz, J Pons, X Gine, B Perez, B Garcia, L Jimenez
Subs: C Petchame, C Salvatella, C Guinea, M Tost, L Riera, M Segu, M Garcia