IRL Women lose to hosts Spain in first game of FIH Nations Cup in Terressa, Spain


Monday June 3, Terressa Spain: Ireland World Ranked #13, who were only the third highest ranked team in their Pool A, took on top seeded Spain who are World Ranked #8, in their opening match of FIH Nations Cup in Terrassa on Monday night. The prize on offer for the winning team will be a place in the 2024-25 FIH Women’s PRO League, and this was the task the team faced under interim Head Coach Facundo Quiroga.

Ireland took the lead through a field goal by Naomi Carroll in the 13th minute. Lola Riera converted a penalty stroke in the 14th minute to equalise for the hosts. And her 29th minute penalty corner gave them a 2-1 lead and they led 2-1 at the end of the first quarter. In the third quarter Marta Segu scored from open play in the 39th minute to put Spain 3-1 ahead and only four minutes later it was 4-1 Marta Segu sending a rebound off Liz Murphy into the back of the net for another field goal. In the fourth quarter Marta Segu again from open play in the 49th minute made it 5-1 to Spain.

When these two sides met in the Olympic Qualifier in Valencia earlier this year it was 0-0 after 60 minutes and Ireland only lost their semi-final in a penalty shoot-out. They went on to lose narrowly to Great Britain and won’t be in Paris this summer on the back of that defeat in the 3rd place match. There was none of the tension surrounding that January match on this occasion and the Irish started off reasonably well in the first quarter. So much so that it wasn’t that big a surprise when Ireland took the lead in the 13th minute. Michelle and Niamh Carey combined down the wing before Michelle Carey had a shot which Spanish goalkeeper Clara Perez parried straight into the path of Naomi Carroll who made no mistake, to make it 1-0 to Ireland.

It was a lead that didn’t last very long, however. Spain went up the other end and forced a succession of penalty corners. From the third in the series Ireland goalkeeper Liz Murphy blocked a shot on the line. Unfortunately, she used her back stick to do so and had a penalty stroke awarded against her.  Lola Riera made no mistake from the 14th minute penalty stroke and so it was 1-1 at the end of the first quarter. Ireland were holding their own and Naomi Carroll had a chance to put Ireland back in front in the 22nd minute when a long aerial pass from Róisín Upton found Naomi Carroll in space inside the Spanish semi-circle. Although she was unmarked, she rushed her effort and put it wide. In the 29th minute Spain were awarded a penalty corner for an illegal stick tackle inside the Irish semi-circle. The penalty corner found Lola Riera who converted it by shooting it in off the inside of the left-hand post guarded by Róisin Upton and they led 2-1 at half-time.

Possession kept being turned over by both sides in a sloppy period of play in the early stages of the second half. Ireland could have equalised in the 37th minute Naomi Carroll was put through in the Spanish semi-circle but her effort was blocked by Spanish goalkeeper Clara Perez and Spain eventually launched a counter attack and Marta Segu capitalized on Liz Murphy coming out to the edge of the semi-circle and not having much assistance in the semi-circle, to get on the end of a long pass and finish the ball into an empty net. It was 3-1 in the 39th minute and Spain added a fourth soon after. Patricia Alvarez had a shot on goal for Spain which Liz Murphy managed to save but the ball rebounded into the path of Bélen Iglesias who fired the rebound into the Irish net.

The game seemed beyond Ireland heading into the fourth quarter. Marta Segu got her second of the game to seal her Player of the Match award in the 49th minute. Sara Barrios got along the base line and passed to Marta Segu who was just inside the semi-circle, and it was then fired into the net to make it Spain 5 Ireland 1. Ireland take on Italy tomorrow afternoon at 4 p.m. Irish time so not much time to turn things around for interim Head Coach Facundo Quiroga and his staff between now and then.

Speaking after the game, Ireland captain Katie Mullan commented:

“Tomorrow is a new day for us, we’ll learn a lot of valuable lessons from that game, especially from the second half. I think it was tight in the first half. Very proud of the girls and I know that there’s serious character in this group and that will prove to come to fruition tomorrow.” 

SPAIN:- Clara Perez (GK); Lucia Jiminez; Maria Lopez; Marta Segu; Constanza Amundson; Blanca Perez; Begona Garcia; Xantal Gine (C); Lala Vidosa; Alejanadra Torres – Quevedo; Patricia Alvarez SUBS USED:– Laura Barrios [5 mins]; Sara Barrios [4 mins];  Julia Strappato [5 mins];  Bélen Iglesias [4 mins]; Lola Riera [6mins]; Beatriz Perez [3 mins]

IRELAND:- Liz Murphy (GK);  Sarah McAuley; Elena Neill; Róisín Upton; Ellen Curran; Katie McKee; Sarah Hawkshaw; Michelle Carey; Niamh Carey; Naomi Carroll SUBS USED:– Hannah McLoughlin [3 mins];  Sarah Torrans [4 mins];  Caoimhe Perdue [4 mins]; Charlotte Beggs [3 mins]; Christina Hamill [6 mins]; Síofra O’Brien [6 mins]