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Spanish pay the penalty as clinical Irish romp to victory in Hamburg

 

By Graham Hamilton

Ireland coach Craig Fulton is hoping his side aren't peaking too early for next month's World Cup qualifier after he watched them sweep aside Spain 4-1 in the opening game in the Hamburg Masters yesterday.

This series is the last chance for Fulton to assess his players before announcing the final 18 who will leave early in July for the Johannesburg tournament which decides if they reach the World Cup finals for the first time since 1990.

And he was quietly pleased with the way they took apart a Spanish side who are just one place below them in the world ranking ladder and who they might meet again next month in the crossover quarter-finals of that world qualifier.

The Green Machine got off to a great start with Johnny McKee winning a penalty corner which Shane O'Donoghue put away and then Alan Sothern added a second from another penalty corner shortly after he hit the woodwork.

Lee Cole got the third when O'Donoghue set him up from yet another penalty corner and although Diego Arana pulled one back for Spain, Lisnagarvey's Matthew Nelson made it 4-1 with a back post finish.

Meanwhile, Ulsterman Mark Gleghorne was on the mark again as England booked their place in the 2018 World Cup finals with a 4-2 win over Canada in last night's quarter-finals in the first of the two qualifiers.

England trailed by two goals but with Ulster duo Ian Sloan and David Ames prominent in midfield they fought back with Barry Middleton, David Goodfield and Sam Ward scoring to add to Gleghorne's deflection.

The Irish continue their build-up against Austria tomorrow (3.45pm) while England will face Netherlands in their semi-final on Saturday (4.15pm).

Belfast Telegraph

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