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Irish will look to positives ahead of Euro bid: Bell


Jonny Bell
Jonny Bell

By John Flack

Ireland's men finished their four-match trip to Barcelona without a win following a 2-1 defeat to Spain yesterday.

However, there were plenty of positives from the final phase of the build-up to the European Championship, which gets under way in Antwerp next week.

Last-second goals had denied the Irish wins over England and Spain at the Four Nations tournament that preceded yesterday's game, which was another tight affair against the higher-ranked host team.

Ireland captain Jonny Bell said: "It was a close game, and we played an excellent first quarter and went on to finish the first half well with good phases of possession.

"However, we lost our way a bit in the second half and couldn't retain the ball for long enough unfortunately.

"Despite some sustained pressure in the final quarter, we were unable to test the Spanish keeper enough but it was another encouraging display."

Ulster's Michael Robson broke the deadlock in the 21st minute when he finished off a superb move as Ireland's early pressure was rewarded.

But Spain hit back to equalise through Albert Beltani's set-piece five minutes after the long break and Xavi Lleonart grabbed the winner six minutes later.

Matty Nelson had a chance to equalise late on but was unable to convert.

Today: Women's international: Belgium v Ireland (Antwerp, 5pm).

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