Ireland off to flying start in Four Nations hockey contest with win over England
Three Rock Rovers duo Walsh and Darling ensures Cox relishes first game as coach
Ireland’s Mitch Darling scored his side’s second goal in their 2-1 victory over England. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Men’s Four Nations tournament
Ireland 2 (D Walsh, M Darling) England 1 (L Taylor)
Alexander Cox’s tenure as Irish men’s coach got off to a great start with a 2-1 win over higher-ranked England in Valencia.
Three Rock Rovers duo Daragh Walsh and Mitch Darling were on the mark in the third quarter, putting Ireland two clear before Luke Taylor got one back from a penalty corner.
They held firm to land the win in what was Cox’s first game on the sideline since taking over from Craig Fulton in August.
He had downplayed the importance of the tie in the lead-up due to the short turnaround time from games in the German and Belgian league.
Indeed, he rested Paul Gleghorne, Michael Robson and Matthew Bell, leaving a space empty on the matchday team sheet as they had all been part of a double-weekend with Krefeld.
Nonetheless, Ireland had the pick of the first-half chances against the world number six side, with Shane O’Donoghue missing a penalty stroke before the break.
Walsh clipped home a reverse in the 33rd minute before Darling finished off from Eugene Magee’s assist to create a strong lead before Taylor halved the deficit.
Ireland play Spain on Tuesday in their second game of the competition.
Elsewhere, the Irish under-23 women’s side beat Spain 3-2 in Terrassa, coming from behind to get the result.
Amy Elliott’s goal just before half-time ensured it was honours-even before Katherine Egan and a late winner from Jessica McMaster saw them over the line.
It was an Irish underage girls team of any description’s first win over Spain since 2005.