Caroline O’Hanlon will captain Netball Northern Ireland at the World Cup after a 12 strong squad was named for named for the tournament which starts in Liverpool on July 12th.
O’Hanlon was instrumental in leading Manchester Storm to the English Super League earlier this month with Northern Ireland coach Dan Ryan also involved in the north west club’s success.
There are two other Super League players in the squad, Vice-captain Fionnuala Toner (London Pulse) and Michelle Drayne.
Shaunagh Craig is the only uncapped player in the squad and is given a second chance at World Cup glory after being selected for England last time around, however the 26-year-old missed the tournament due to injury. Sisters Emma and Michelle Magee, who both played at the World Youth Cup in Botswana in 2017, are also included in the squad.
It will be head coach Dan Ryan’s first tournament in charge after Elaine Rice stepped down following last year’s Commonwealth Games.
“There were a number of key retirements from the squad after last year’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast so we’ve been working hard since December to rebuild the squad,” he said. “I’m really pleased with the growth and improvements we have shown over the past six months. I am really excited by the final 12 we have selected to represent Northern Ireland in Liverpool.
“There is a nice balance within the team with a number of really experienced and accomplished performers that will provide us with great leadership, plus some fresh new faces and great young talent that has really stepped up to the mark.”
Northern Ireland will meet Ryan’s home nation Australia in their first game on the 12 July, before taking on Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe to complete their pool games but the head coach isn’t focusing on that match up for now. He said: “I can’t wait to get stuck into some more hard work over the next six weeks and challenge ourselves in a number of test matches before seeing what kind of impact we can make at the World Cup.”