Belfast Telegraph

Netball: Maeve McQuillan in squad for Republic clash

By Richard Bullick

Dublin-based student Maeve McQuillan is the new name in the Northern Ireland squad for next week's one-off Test away to the Republic of Ireland.

The Under-21 international, who has played little Premier League netball for Belfast Ladies due to her exile, gets her chance in the enforced absence of captain Gemma Gibney.

Gibney is sidelined with the knee injury sustained in training recently, so Graduates clubmate Hannah Willis will lead the girls in green.

Even though Northern Ireland often experiment against the Republic, new national coach Kate Carpenter has selected a strong squad ahead of the following week's big event in Antrim.

The inaugural Festival of Netball will see Northern Ireland face Botswana, Barbados and St Lucia in a mouthwatering quadrangular tournament as the build-up to next summer's Commonwealth Games begins.

So it is a great chance for McQuillan to mingle with the top players, though Larkfield duo Deborah McCarthy and the unavailable Nordia Masters could come into consideration for future selection.

However, their clubmate Lisa Bowman makes a welcome return to international netball after a double maternity break and the giant goal-shooter can make an impact in the coming months.

In the short-term either Bowman or the team's main markswoman Noleen Lennon could be deployed at the other end of the court in Gibney's absence as an alternative to rookie McQuillan or Frances Campbell.

The experienced Lisa McCaffrey, who was vice-captain up until the 2011 World Cup before being sidelined for a year following foot surgery, is ruled out by work commitments.

So Cathy McLean of Belfast Ladies has again got the nod as back-up centre to Larkfield captain Caroline O'Hanlon and Maire Toner also makes the 12.

Northern Ireland Under 21 captain Niamh Cooper has received Carpenter's call along with recent regular Michelle Drayne, who is one of three Larkfield representatives.

There are five from Graduates including first choice goal attack Oonagh McCullough and talented defender Fionnuala Toner completes a Belfast Ladies quartet.

The three clubs making up the entire Northern Ireland squad should all win well again in tonight's Premier League games, which includes champions Belfast Ladies against Dromore.

Belfast Telegraph

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