'We've closed gap' - Muller
Emma Clarke blasted Ireland to deserved 1-1 draw against world No 10 side Spain in Belfield last night to complete the group stages of the FIH Champion's Challenge as the top points scorers from either pool.
Clarke cancelled out Barbara Malda's 50th-minute opener within four minutes and almost powered her side to victory as the Irish poured forward in the closing stages.
Irish coach Gene Muller felt his side were the better outfit, and had improved significantly since the harrowing 3-0 defeat in 2009 to the Spanish.
"We've certainly closed the gap and I felt today we were better than them. We got seven out of nine points from the pool, so it was mission accomplished there, but there is certainly enough to work on for the quarter-finals," he said.
Ireland face the USA in the last eight tomorrow. "They are the opponents that I wanted to avoid," commented Muller.
Ireland -- P Smithwick, M Harvey, E Smyth, E Clarke, A Speers, J O'Halloran, S McCarthy, N Symmons, A O'Flynn, L Colvin, N Daly. Subs: S McCay, J McDonnell, L Jacob, A Connery, C Watkins.
Spain -- I Barguno, J Menendez, R Ybarra, B Bonastre, M Prat, S Munoz, B Perez, B Malda, P Sanchez, M Comerma, G Oliva. Subs: M Lopez, A Puig, M Garcia, A Flores, O Pineiro.
Two Irish riders line out in the richest show jumping tournament on the circuit this weekend as the Global Champions Tour moves to Monte Carlo for the fifth round of the 10-leg series, WRITES LOUISE PARKES.
Billy Twomey takes Tinka's Serenade to the fixture along with Thackeray, while Denis Lynch has his Olympic ride Lantinus, Lacroix and Contiflex for the €93,000 event which begins tomorrow.
A total of 18 Irish riders are listed for the Hickstead Derby Meeting, which begins today. They include Shane Breen, who will ride Mullaghdrin Gold Rain, while his brother Trevor brings his former Hickstead Speed Derby winner Adventure de Kannan.
Army rider Capt David O'Brien brings the mares Kiltoom and Mo Chroi, while Anthony Condon takes Twomey's horse Romanov.
England have dropped former captain Paul Colling-wood and wicketkeeper Matt Prior from their one-day squad.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Craig Kieswetter has been recalled, along with all-rounder Samit Patel.
Collingwood (35) is England's most capped one-day player with 197 matches.
England take on Sri Lanka in a Twenty20 international on Saturday before a series of five one-day matches.