Scotland’s Golden boys made it a bittersweet return to indoor international action on home turf for Ireland after 34 years as the visitors landed a 7-3 win in the first of three challenge matches at the Antrim Forum.
Cookstown’s Mark Crooks scrambled in an opener for Ireland in the second minute for a dream start but the Scots soon turned on the style.
Jamie Golden slotted a corner to quickly level the game and his older brother Cameron flicked in before Jamie got his second goal in quick succession to make it 3-1 in the fifth minute of a fast and furious encounter.
Stephen O’Keeffe was outstanding in this phase in the green goal but he could not keep out Cameron as the Golden brothers raced to reach their hat-trick.
Ireland fronted up well in the second half with Rory Patterson’s smart finish cutting the gap while Ross Canning slotted a corner but two more goals from Patrick Christie and a peach of a finish from Jamie Golden meant the Scots were always out of range.
Reflecting on the result, Irish captain John Jackson said: “It’s bittersweet. To play any international hockey at this time is amazing, especially indoor which is such a special brand of the game and it is nice to showcase it in front of a home crowd.
“It was a step forward from when we played them two years ago in Santander and the new players have added something but we shot ourselves in the foot at times with some of our basics in the first two periods and gave ourselves a mountain to climb.”
The two sides meet again twice today at 10am and then 2pm.
Emily Dark’s double saw Ireland women succumb to a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Scotland.
Ireland were in control at half-time, leading 2-0 after Sarah Patton and Mikayla Power goals, but Dark’s pair either side of a Margery Justice finish saw the Scots triumph.
Captain Orla Fox reflected on the tie, saying: “We have a lot of new caps today which has shown the growth of the game and it is so nice to play a home game but it is disappointing, losing it in the last quarter. These games are so useful for us ahead of the Europeans in January and we have a good chance to suss out what our opposition will be like.”