Ireland fight back to level series against Spain

Goalkeeper Grace O’Flanagan denies Spain with fine saves

Anna O’Flanagan in action against Spain.  She deflected home Shirley McCay’s penalty corner  for a  late winner on Sunday.  Photograph: Rowland White/Inpho/Presseye

Anna O’Flanagan in action against Spain. She deflected home Shirley McCay’s penalty corner for a late winner on Sunday. Photograph: Rowland White/Inpho/Presseye

 

Ireland fought back from 2-0 down to beat Spain 3-2 in Malaga on Sunday, the result leaving their series of matches squared at 2-2. It was an encouraging conclusion to a week that had started ominously with a 7-0 defeat, the team recovering impressively from that mauling to win two of the next three games.

First-half goals from Carmen Cano and Lola Riera, the second a penalty stroke, put Spain in charge, Grace O’Flanagan twice denying them a third score with fine saves.

After Lena Tice and Gillian Pinder (twice) hit the post and crossbar, it didn’t look like it was going to be Ireland’s day, but Anna O’Flanagan pulled a goal back after being picked out in the circle by Deirdre Duke, before captain Katie Mullan levelled with a reverse strike following good work from Ellen Curran.

The turnaround was completed by O’Flanagan when she deflected home Shirley McCay’s penalty corner with three minutes to go.

Spain had got the better of Saturday’s game despite falling behind to an Aisling Naughton goal near half-time, Marta Segu equalising before two goals in five minutes in the final quarter sealed the win for the hosts.

Yvonne O’Byrne became the second Cork Harlequins player, after Naomi Carroll earlier in the week, to reach the 100 cap mark in the series when she came on as a substitute in Sunday’s game.

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