NETBALL: Disappointing day for hosts as Trinidad prevail

Trinidad and Tobago's' Kielle Connelly in action during the European Netball Open Championships on Saturday
Trinidad and Tobago's' Kielle Connelly in action during the European Netball Open Championships on Saturday

It was another black Saturday for Northern Ireland at Antrim Forum where a disappointing performance cost them a golden opportunity to beat Trinidad.

The girls in green have never won on a Saturday at their home venue but came into this fourth fixture at the European Open confident of victory.

Elaine Rice’s side had been buoyed by three good displays on the first two days of the tournament and the stage seemed set for them to claim another significant scalp

Like Northern Ireland against South Africa the previous evening, Trinidad should have been at a disadvantage here having already played earlier in the day.

The fact they had lost to a Scottish side well beaten by Northern Ireland on Friday did little to dampen expectations of a first ever victory over the Caribbean outfit.

Reverting to the starting seven who had played the entire game against Scotland, Northern Ireland got off to a promising start as they established and maintained a five-goal lead.

It could have been ever better but for Lisa Bowman missing as many shots in the first few minutes as in the hour against Scotland with sister Kyla also drawing a blank.

But with experienced centre Caroline O’Hanlon coming up with inspirational plays, Northern Ireland led 11-6 late in the quarter in spite of that uncharacteristic lack of accuracy.

Although Northern Ireland appeared in control, with hindsight they could have made the evening easy for themsleves by capitalising even more on that opening period dominance.

Trinidad were there to be broken but gratefully grasped the lifeline and closed the gap to 12-10 at the first interval before ruthlessly siezing the initiative in what was a disastrous second quarter for the hosts.

Northern Ireland were outscored 17-7 in that period in spite of O’Hanlon calling a timeout midway through to let her side regroup.

The girls in green needed to bounce back quickly but couldn’t significantly cut the deficit at any stage in spite of Rice ringing the changes including taking off captain Gemma Gibney.

She was back on the court by the time stand-in skipper O’Hanlon limped off in the final few minutes but the game was well gone with Trinidad still 10 up as they had been at the last break.

It finished 52-40 but Northern Ireland will claim European Championship silver medals for only the second time ever if Scotland beat Wales this morning.

A win for the Welsh would mean Northern Ireland needing to keep the score down in their last game against England to take runners-up place on goal difference.

RESULTS (day 3): Scotland 45 Trinidad&Tobago 42, England 69 Wales 32, Northern Ireland 40 Trinidad&Tobago 52, South Africa 72 Wales 42.