The Ireland senior women began their preparations for FIH World League 2 later this month with a 2-0 defeat to Spain in a friendly international in Valencia this afternoon.

The squad have been away at a training camp in Spain since last Saturday and will return to the same venue for their opening game against Czech Republic in FIH World League 2 on 25 February.

Ireland, playing for the first time under new coach Darren Smith, included 17 of the 18 players who claimed the bronze medal at the FIH Champion Challenge I in Dublin last September and also saw the return of Emma Clarke, Nicci Daly, Cliodhna Sargent & Shirley McCay, who were unavailable for that tournament.

Smith’s charges played some good hockey but came up short against an experienced Spanish side.

Speaking after the game, Smith said: “Understandably it was a case of getting used to each other again after a four month break from test matches.

“We saw some nice passages of play throughout and a number of good opportunities created. Overall I am satisfied with what we have achieved and optimistic for the other two matches in this series’

The sides will meet again on Saturday before rounding off the series on Monday lunchtime.

Ireland squad:
1. Niamh Atcheler (UCD), 2. Emma Clarke (Leicester, England), 3. Aine Connery (Corinthian), 4. Nicci Daly (Holcombe HC, England), 5. Nikki Evans (UCD), 6. Brenda Flannery (UCD), 7. Emma Gray (Hermes), 8. Nicola Gray (UCD), 9. Michelle Harvey (Pegasus), 10. Lisa Jacob (Hermes), 11. Sinead McCarthy (Hermes), 12. Shirley McCay (Old Alexandra), 13. Katie Mullan (UCD), 14. Anna O'Flanagan (UCD), 15. Audrey O'Flynn (Hermes), 16. Cliodhna Sargent (Cork Harlequins), 17. Niamh Small (Loreto), 18. Pamela Smithwick (Old Alexandra), 19. Emma Smyth (Railway Union), 20. Alex Speers (Railway Union), 21. Nikki Symmons (Loreto), 22. Chloe Watkins (UCD).

Ireland starting XI: Smithwick, McCarthy, Sargent, Harvey, N Gray, Watkins, Symmons, Smyth, Mullan, Evans, Connery.