England open defence of European title with victory over Ireland
England opened the defence of their EuroHockey Championship title with a 4-1 win over Ireland in Amsterdam on Saturday.
A year ago to the day, Great Britain's women's team delivered an historic gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics with a dramatic penalty shootout victory over the Netherlands.
And there was more success for home-grown talent as England produced a composed display in their Pool B opener at the Wagener Stadium.
England were in front on four minutes when Laura Unsworth, one of the Team GB gold medal winners in Brazil last summer, saw her cross deflected in at the near post.
Goalkeeper Maddie Hinch, another Olympian in the side, produced a good stop to deny Roisin Upton from a penalty corner as England took their 1-0 lead into half-time.
Striker Ellie Watton was on hand to stab the ball in from close range on 37 minutes, before Elena Tice reduced the deficit with a low shot from the edge of the arc.
Sophie Bray, though, quickly restored England's two-goal advantage with a neat finish on 43 minutes to an angled pass from Lily Owsley.
Captain Alex Danson chipped in a fourth with five minutes to go after a goalmouth scramble.
Earlier on Saturday in the other Pool B fixture, Germany beat Scotland 4-1.
Charlotte Stapenhorst fired Germany ahead after just 26 seconds, converting after Marie Mavers' shot had been blocked, and they extended their lead on 12 minutes through Pia Grambusch following a penalty corner.
Scotland regrouped and held their own, threatening regularly with Sarah Robertson, but when there were eight minutes to go Teresa Martina Pelegrina slammed in a backhand shot.
Stapenhorst got her second and Germany's fourth on 55 minutes with a tap-in at the back post before Fiona Burnet netted a late consolation for the Scots.
England will face Germany on Sunday, while Ireland play Scotland.
In the men's competition on Sunday, England will start their Pool B fixtures against Poland while Ireland take on Germany.