Craig Fulton sees progress after Tri-Nations tournament in Spain
Ireland achieve draw and a win against France, and a draw and a defeat to Spain
Craig Fulton: “We have made some really good progress as a team and there were some strong performances from the younger players.” Photograph: Inpho
Ireland completed their Tri-Nations tournament in Spain with a draw against the Spanish team on Friday.
Ranked one place higher than Ireland at nintth in the world, two goals from Shane O’Donogue and one goal from Matthew Nelson brought the week to a close with some mixed fortune in terms of results.
Ireland drew with France 2-2 in their first match before beating them 3-1 in Malaga in the second game. Spain beat Ireland 2-1 in the first meeting in Benalmadena before the final 3-3 result.
So a draw and a win against France and a draw and a defeat to Spain is no more than an average set of results, even factoring in the experimental nature of the trip and that coach Craig Fulton had brought along some inexperienced players in order to have a look.
“There have been improvements in every game and that was the main objective coming to Spain with this squad,” said Fulton after the final game with Spain. “We have made some really good progress as a team and there were some strong performances from the younger players”.
Irish defender Conor Harte also tweeted, “incredibly valuable trip to Spain. Huge step made in the right direction.”
That leaves a month and a half to the run in to the World League event in Stormont in March, where Ireland face Ukraine, Austria and Italy in the pool before an eventual meeting with France most likely.
Fulton can welcome back his number one goal keeper David Harte from Mumbai in India, But he will have to decide over the coming six weeks how many of the Rio Olympics players will stay on and who to cut on the long haul towards a World Cup qualification and Tokyo in 2020.