The Ireland women’s team got off to a winning start against Czech Republic in the World League 2 today in Valencia despite losing an early goal in warm conditions in Spain.
Darren Smith’s side fell behind in the fifth minute when a defensive mix up resulted in the ball somehow finding its way into the Ireland goal.
It wasn’t the start the Green Army would have wanted, but credit to the side led by captain Alex Speers, they were up for a fight today and worked hard to get themselves back into contention in the important opening game.
Goals from Lisa Jacob, Aine Connery, Audrey O'Flynn and Nicola Gray gave Ireland the win in Spain.
"We need to be tighter defensively against Belarus, and be sharper and more creative offensively” - Darren Smith
Ireland forced a couple of penalty corners after falling behind, which didn’t come off for the Green Army and captain Alex Speers was unlucky to see a shot slide wide of the goal following a one-on-one with the Czech goalie.
Ireland’s equaliser finally came off the back of their third penalty corner with Hermes' Jacob finishing off a rebound following a good save from the Czechs.
The Green Army struck again before half-time to turn the tide in their favour when Corinthian player Connery trapped a crossed ball into the circle and expertly finished to give Ireland a 2-1 lead.
The goal came just before the half-time hooter and was exactly what the Green Army needed.
The second half began with Ireland showing renewed energy and they quickly raced into a two-goal lead when O’Flynn converted a penalty corner within two minutes of the restart to extend the lead to 3-1.
Ireland controlled possession in the main from here on in and while their play didn’t result in vast amounts of clear-cut chances the Green Army never looked in danger of conceding a second goal to the Czech’s that would have made the game a tense affair.
Towards the finish, Ireland managed to add a fourth goal through UCD’s Gray following good work from Emma Smyth to win the penalty corner.
Ireland were efficient in the remainder of game and potentially could have extended the lead further through two additional penalty corners, but in the end they had to be satisfied to run out 4-1 winners despite the early scare.
Following the game, Ireland coach Smith said: “Our win was a reasonable start for us.
"The Czech team played as we expected, looking to exploit any counter-attack opportunity.
"We need to be tighter defensively against Belarus, and be sharper and more creative offensively.”
Smith’s side are back in action tomorrow where they will face Belarus at 10:00 Irish time.
Ireland women starting XI: Smithwick, Speers, Jacob, O'Flanagan, Smyth, Watkins, Symmons, N Gray, Atcheler, O'Flynn, Sargent