Belgium 3-1 Ireland
Ireland fell to their fourth consecutive defeat in their final Three Nations tournament game as they went down 3-1 to a clinical Belgium at at Club Hockey Alcalá in Spain.
The Green Army gave their higher-ranked opponents problems but were picked off by a fluid attack.
A very tight opening half almost saw Ireland take an early lead as Nikki Evans drew a strong high save from Elena Sotgiu inside the opening two minutes.
The Green Army were pressing high and putting the Belgians under a lot of pressure, a tactic that payed off as Ireland tilted the possession stats in their favour.
However an experienced Belgian side were able to break at pace and a composed Elene Tice was forced to clear up a dangerous two-v-one situation.
Pauline Leclef gave her side the lead in the dying seconds of the opening quarter as her initial PC shot was blocked but the follow-up sweep found its way through a crowded circle into the goal.
A minute into the second quarter they’d doubled their lead as a pacey attack down the right found Emma Puvrez free at the back post for the tap-in.
But Ireland were creating their own chances. Two PC routines went awry, while Evans was distributing the ball and charging into the circle at will.
Ireland’s goal came from a piece of solo brilliance by Sarah Torrans as she broke into the circle and fired into the bottom corner from an acute angle, beating Aisling D’Hooghe before the half-time break.
Grace O’Flanagan was called upon far more in the second half and made several very good saves.
The pick of the bunch came when a loose ball across the Irish circle was intercepted, forcing O’Flanagan to spring from her goal and slide at the shooting striker.
Evans arguably had the best of the Irish chances as she picked up the ball unmarked in the circle but D’Hooghe did enough to put her off and the shot fizzled wide.
Alix Gerniers put the game to bed for Belgium in the 53rd minute when she skipped into the circle and shot on her reverse.
Ireland: G O’Flanagan, C Brown, N Evans, E Getty, E Tice, S Torrans, A O’Flanagan, Z Wilson, D Duke (Captain), A Meeke, L McGuire
Subs: E Buckley, Y O’Byrne, N Carroll, H McLoughlin, L Colvin, E Russell, R Barry
Three Nations results at Club Hockey Alcalá
Ireland 2-4 Spain 28/11/17
Ireland 2-4 Belgium 29/11/17
Spain 2-3 Belgium 30/11/17
Ireland 2-5 Spain 1/12/17
Ireland 1-3 Belgium 2/12/17