Coach Smith's reign starts with successive defeats to Spain


Women's hockey:Darren Smith’s reign as Irish coach got off to a losing start with 2-0 and 2-1 friendly defeats by Spain in Valencia, but the New Zealander at least got a good look at his squad in action for the first time, making nine changes for the second of the games.

In their first run-out since September’s Champion Challenge I in Dublin, a rusty-looking Ireland conceded a goal in each half to the hosts. “It was understandable, it was a case of getting used to each other again after a four month break from test matches,” said Smith who was happier with the second display in which Chloe Watkins created a goal for Áine Connery between Spain’s two scores.

“This was an improved performance . . ,” he said. “I am pleased with the progress we are making.” The teams meet again today in the last of their friendlies.

Despite having seven players in the Irish squad, UCD still beat third-placed Loreto with a Jeamie Deacon goal on Saturday, their 10th league win in a row. But Railway Union’s win over Pembroke, thanks to a Holly Jenkinson goal, saw them stay level with the students at the top of the table.

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