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Larkfield on final mission without O'Hanlon

 

By Richard Bullick

Premier League champions Larkfield will be without their iconic captain Caroline O'Hanlon for netball's Senior Cup final at Lisburn Racquets tomorrow (3.30pm).

Victory for trophy holders Larkfield over neighbours Kingsway would complete a third domestic double in four seasons for Denise Prue's side.

Larkfield have already romped to a fourth consecutive Premier League title and are 60 minutes away from going through the full season with a 100 per cent record.

However they will have to finish the job in the absence of long-serving skipper O'Hanlon who has a British SuperLeague match for Scottish Sirens at the same time.

The clash is unfortunate for O'Hanlon, who has been club captain for the past decade, but powerful Larkfield will still start favourites to take the honours.

Even without Northern Ireland captain O'Hanlon, Prue has the luxury of being able to field an all-international starting seven.

Tyrone ladies gaelic captain Neamh Woods will likely deputise for O'Hanlon as skipper and may move to fill her centre role with the experienced Eimear McKillop coming in at wing defence.

Larkfield have become increasingly dominant in recent seasons as their traditional rivals Belfast Ladies and Graduates have slipped backwards.

This is the first time for many years that neither of the established Belfast Big Two will be in the domestic showpiece with Kingsway instead emerging as Larkfield's opponents.

Driven by the energy and enthusiasm of head coach Laura Montgomery, Kingsway are an ambitious club and have started tasting success at various levels.

Their senior squad has been bolstered by Montgomery's daughter Sarah returning from Graduates and bringing two fellow Northern Ireland internationals to Kingsway with her.

Niamh Cooper is a regular in the green dress while Sinead Redmond has also been capped by her country at senior level.

Kingsway captain Clodagh McCambridge and fellow Lurgan girl Derbhla Coleman are rising stars of both netball and gaelic football.

Coleman is the current Ulster Young Player of the Year in ladies gaelic and was lead shooter for Northern Ireland at the recent European Under 17 Championships.

Montgomery's girls will have to upset the odds if they are to secure the silverware.

Kingsway were hammered 90-27 by Larkfield in the league last October but reaching the knockout final is a significant step forward.

The senior showpiece is the culmination of a day of 10 club finals on two adjoining courts from 9am with Kingsway Seconds, Thirds and Under 14s among the teams in action.

Belfast Telegraph

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