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Ireland cap productive five-game series in Spain with a draw as road to Tokyo continues

Two wins, two draws and one defeat is a strong return against the world and European bronze medalists.

ireland hockey Sean Dancer's side enjoyed a successful trip to Spain. Source: Green Army/Ire Women Hockey Twitter.

DESPITE THE AIR of uncertainty amidst the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the Irish women’s hockey team’s Olympic preparation is in full swing. 

The Green Army concluded a productive five-game series against Spain with a 4-4 draw in Murcia, coming from 4-2 down at half time to draw level with the hosts.

Lena Tice’s pair of penalty corner drag-flicks in the final quarter ultimately earned Sean Dancer’s side a draw in their final outing of the trip, after earlier strikes from Zara Malseed and Anna O’Flanagan. 

The come-from-behind leveller capped a ‘really positive’ tour, according to midfielder Lizzie Colvin on BBC NI, which yielded two wins and two draws against the world and European bronze medalists.

Malseed – who has been playing with a broken thumb – is one who enjoyed a stunning first trip away with the team, scoring three goals in two outings. 

The Ards 23-year-old, who previously thought her dream of playing international hockey was dead, was on the double last time out, as Ireland drew 2-2.

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World Cup heroes Nikki Evans, Deirdre Duke (two) and Anna O’Flanagan were all on the scoresheet on day one as Ireland were 4-1 winners. A 3-2 defeat followed, though Duke once again hit the net along with Niamh Carey.

Day three was all about Muckross star O’Flanagan, who finished with a brace when Dancer’s side won 2-0.

anna-oflanagan-celebrates-scoring-her-sides-second-goal-with-chloe-watkins Anna O'Flanagan (file pic). Source: Presseye/Jonathan Porter/INPHO

In all, it was a strong return from the team’s first series against international opposition in almost a year, following on from lengthy training blocks before Christmas.

Further preparations for Tokyo 2021 are unclear as of yet, though, as the Green Army look to build on their unforgettable World Cup silver at London 2018 at a first Olympics.

June’s European Championships in Amsterdam are to be contested before the postponed Olympics a month later — there, they’ll hope to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.

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Emma Duffy

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