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Murray and Caruth help resilient Ireland get off to flier in Spain

By Graham Hamilton

Ireland men came from behind to open their Five Nations tournament schedule in Spain with a 4-1 win over Canada yesterday afternoon.

The result, against a team ranked just one place below them on the world ladder and in the middle of their preparations for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games on Australia's Gold Coast, was just the kind of lift Craig Fulton's lads needed as they begin their World Cup build-up in earnest.

The Green Machine had travelled to Benalmadena without a handful of their more experienced players, including Eugene Magee, John Jackson, Mitch Darling, Kirk Shimmins, Ronan Gormley and goalkeeper David Harte.

But the fringe players responded and were well worth their success.

Fulton included eight Ulstermen in his match-day squad and Lisnagarvey's Sean Murray and Annadale's player/coach Peter Caruth were among the goalscorers as the Irish overcame that early setback with what was a pleasing attacking display.

It was Gordon Johnston who gave Canada the lead from a penalty corner against the run of play.

But Murray levelled matters in the 22nd minute after good work by Shane O'Donoghue who broke into the circle.

Luke Madeley then put the Irish ahead when he converted a penalty corner and two minutes later O'Donoghue made it 3-1 with one of his trademark penalty corner drag-flicks to the bottom corner.

The second half proved to be a lot closer but Caruth completed the scoring after good work by Lisnagarvey striker Matthew Nelson.

The Irish are in action again this afternoon (4pm), this time against hosts Spain who are the highest ranked team in the five-day series.

Tomorrow is a rest day and then they will complete their round-robin programme against Scotland on Thursday afternoon (4pm) and the USA on Saturday (1pm).

Meanwhile, one of the Irish absentees, Ulsterman Jackson, was in action at English Hockey's Super Sixes indoor tournament at the Copper Box Arena in London's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

The Mossley man scored in the final but his Bath Buccaneers side narrowly lost 4-3 to East Grinstead.

Earlier, Bath had secured their place in the decider with a shoot-out semi-final win over Wimbledon while Grinstead went through after beating Surbiton 3-1.

IRELAND: M Ingram; M Bell, J Bell, C Harte, L Cole; S O'Donoghue, Chris Cargo, S Murray; J Dale, J McKee, P Caruth. Subs: M Nelson, M Robson, L Madeley, J Duncan, S O'Connor.

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