NORTHERN IRELAND 61 ST LUCIA 40
Northern Irish netballers recorded their first win in Pool A at the SECC Arena on Monday in Glasgow beating St Lucia convincingly 61-40.
At this stage of the competition the win sits secondary to the fact that this was an overall team performance from Northern Ireland who have recovered after their shaky start against Malawi on Day One.
The win on Monday night followed by a rest day on Tuesday should provide the ideal lead up to the crucial game against Scotland on Wednesday evening.
This match will ultimately decide whether Northern Ireland will be required to quickly recover from a loss for the classification matches on Thursday, or, buy themselves a rest day together with a chance at placing higher up the final leader board with a win.
Goal Attack Oonagh McCullough started convincingly for the girls in green netting a straight 5 from 5 showing an overall increase in shooting percentages. The attacking problems which had been evident in the previous two matches were worked out with the long ball option being used to great effect. The introduction of this option indicated to St Lucia and the crowd that Northern Ireland had the confidence to take the game to them. And they did, quarter after quarter they extended their lead.
The combination of the fast flowing game with lovely and timely intercepts being taken by Niamh Cooper at Wing Defence and captain Hannah Irvine at Wing Attack solidified Northern Ireland’s presence in the game.
Caroline O’Hanlon at Centre showcased her leadership qualities by assisting with the control of the quick turnover ball from defence in the transition to attack. Even when the ball came down to attack quicker than expected the calm Noleen Lennon (Goal Shooter) was able to convert her team’s hard work to a crucial point on the scoreboard highlighting her ball handling abilities. The crowd were even treated with a cheeky off the post from McCullough at a back line throw-in which is steadfastly becoming her trade mark move – the risk involved with a move such as this (which involves playing the ball off the post) highlights the confidence that the team were playing with.
Kate Carpenter was able to take advantage of the lead by rotating her bench well with smooth transitions onto court including replacing the entire shooting circle in the last quarter brining on Lisa Sommerville at shooter and the young Maire Toner at Goal Attack.
The fact that all 12 players are now stepping up to the mark should create problems for Kate Carpenter heading into the final Pool game against the Scots – but that is a headache Carpenter won’t mind.
Northern Ireland take on Scotland at 5pm at the SECC on Wednesday in their final Pool match.