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Girls in green hoping to be back in the groove after heavy defeat

Published 14/05/2016

Northern Ireland's Caroline O’Hanlon
Northern Ireland's Caroline O’Hanlon

The real business begins this afternoon for Northern Ireland after yesterday’s predictable defeat by England in the opening game of the European Championships.

They lost 83-32 to the northern hemisphere heavyweights after sacrificing respectability on the scoreboard to prioritise more meaningful matches ahead.

Their clashes with Wales and Scotland over the weekend in Newcastle will determine whether the girls in green can finish as runners-up to the hosts, holders and favourites.

Northern Ireland’s priorities were evident yesterday when coach Julie Kimber withdrew her five biggest names for the final quarter of the English game.

Captain Gemma Gibney, vice-captain Neamh Woods, defender Fionnuala Toner, centre Caroline O’Hanlon and forward Kyla Bowman all came off at the last interval.

Unsurprisingly Northern Ireland’s unfamiliar line-up proved lambs to the slaughter as England ran away with that humbling last quarter 27-4.

But the embarrassing scoreline from those final 15 minutes will quickly be forgotten if Kimber’s side beat Wales this afternoon and the Scots tomorrow. If the girls in green can do the double over their celtic cousins this weekend, they will emulate the runners-up place achieved last time the Euros were held in England.

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