The Ireland men's team suffered a 1-0 defeat to Spain at the Rabo Eurohockey Championships in Amsterdam in their fifth to eighth place pool game.
Spain got off to an ideal start with a 3rd minute goal manufactured by Alvaro Iglesias’s pass to Enrique Gonzalez in the circle who swept the ball hard into the corner from close range.
For large periods of the opening 30 minutes Ireland were camped in their opponent’s half with all the Spanish team in their own 23 defending onslaughts from Conor Harte and Shane O’Donoghue as they patiently waited for the gaps to open.
O’Donoghue was slightly unlucky to not score from a penalty corner routine as Quico Cortes made a superb diving stick save which followed Ricardo Santana clearing the ball from the line moments earlier from another O’Donoghue shot.
David Harte made a great save of his own from a Spanish penalty corner routine and the Irish defence were up to the 2 further Spanish PC’s to keep the game tight, with just Gonzalez’s goal separating the sides.
Cortes was again called into action early in the second half as Paul Gleghorne found Alan Sothern in the circle with a pinpoint pass but the tricky tap in shot was well saved.
Real chances were few and far between for much of the quarter, the best of them was an aerial to Lee Cole on the edge of the circle which saw him blast the ball across the goal just past the far post.
No cards for either team hints at the discipline displayed by both defences and Spain routinely packed their entire team into their 23 as Ireland chased the equaliser.
Any solid Spanish attacks came on the counter courtesy of Gonzalez but much of the final 15 minutes was Ireland’s.
Kirk Shimmins went on a blistering run through the centre of the pitch and sent a perfectly weighted pass to Sothern in the circle but his first time shot went wide.
Sean Murray was another with a superb chance, completely of his own making, as he stole the ball and charged into the circle but his reverse shot was saved by Cortes and Shimmins blasted the rebound over the bar. Ireland threw everything at the Spanish and opted for a kicking back in the final minutes.
Sothern drew a reaction save from Cortes who then sent the ball deliberately over the end line resulting in an Irish corner. The routine wasn’t executed as planned and despite an Irish referral for a stick tackle, the chance for the equaliser was lost.
"It was a tight match but I thought we created enough chances today to win the game, especially in the second half. We’re doing the right things, we just need some more confidence and composure in front of goal; it’ll come," said Craig Fulton, Ireland coach.
Ireland have their final match on 27 August against Austria at 10am. The fixture will be shown live on BT Sport.
Ireland women’s hockey team have their final match 26 August at 11:15am against Spain, shown live on BT Sport.
Ireland: D Harte, J Jackson, L Cole, A Sothern, N Glassey, K Shimmins, S O’Donoghue, M Robson, P Gleghorne, C Harte, S Loughrey
Subs: J Bell (Captain), M Nelson, S Murray, B Walker, D Walsh, M Bell, M Ingram
Spain: Q Cortes, S Enrique (Captain), R Sanchez, P Quemada, A Iglesias, R Santana, X Lleonart, M Salles, J Romeu, M Serrahima, E Gonzalez
Subs: J Tarres, M Garcia, D Arana, A de Frutos, M Calzada, M Perellon, I Torras