Belfast Telegraph

Commonwealth Games: Carpenter's girls turn on the style to record first Games win

N. Ireland 61-40 St Lucia

By Richard Bullick

Dominant Northern Ireland averaged more than a goal a minute against St Lucia as they recorded an emphatic first ever victory in the Commonwealth Games.

Their 61-40 win over the lowest seeded side in Pool A sets the girls in green up perfectly for tomorrow's crunch clash with hosts Scotland for a place in the top eight.

Majestic centre Caroline O'Hanlon pulled the strings superbly and Noleen Lennon clinically nailed the chances created, netting 33 of her shots at goal.

With her team in complete control, coach Kate Carpenter had the luxury of withdrawing both big guns for the final quarter along with Lennon's shooting partner Oonagh McCullough.

That gave game-time to other squad members, including young reserve forward Maire Toner.

Yesterday was a landmark day for NI netball and it was fitting that legends Lennon and O'Hanlon, regulars since the 2003 World Cup in Jamaica, were at the heart of this historic victory.

Having beaten St Lucia 61-36 at the International Festival last November, Northern Ireland went into this group game as favourites but Caribbean sides are notoriously unpredictable.

Up until now, Northern Ireland had been beaten by three of the world's top five teams but they easily adjusted to front-running.

With McCullough's shooting stats much improved and Lennon nailing 10 from 10, Northern Ireland led 16-10 after the first quarter and had extended their advantage by four at half-time.

An O'Hanlon turnover in deep defence sparked a flowing move which resulted in a fantastic team goal and Northern Ireland won that penultimate period 20-9.

Niamh Cooper, who had started at wing defence in place of a fatigued Fionnuala Toner, gave way to Michelle Drayne at half-time while Lisa Somerville, Lisa McCaffrey and Toner came on for those final 15 minutes.

Northern Ireland shared the last quarter 12-12 and now have a rest day before facing Scotland.

Northern Ireland: G Gibney, N Masters, N Cooper, C O'Hanlon, H Willis (capt), O McCullough, N Lennon. Subs: M Drayne for Cooper, L McCaffrey for O'Hanlon, M Toner for McCullough, L Somerville for Lennon.

Belfast Telegraph

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