Belfast Telegraph

Netball: Mum's the word on Commonwealth Games bid as Micaela returns

By Richard Bullick

One of Northern Ireland's leading netballers of the past decade could yet feature in next summer's Commonwealth Games, despite 18 months out of the game.

The former Micaela Brunton, born in Melbourne to Tyrone parents and now married to ex-Derry gaelic footballer Joe Diver, captained NI U21s to a superb sixth place at the 2005 Junior World Championships in Florida.

She achieved one long-standing ambition when facing her native Australia in the 2011 World Cup and appearing at the Commonwealths would be another natural attraction.

The experienced defender hadn't played any netball since giving birth to her first child last November until a brief cameo for Belfast Ladies on Friday night.

Now Bellaghy-based, she helped the champions to a 76-13 victory over top flight newcomers Westside in the first ever Premier League derby between the two city clubs. The 29-year-old then featured for the Seconds in a 63-24 win against Kingsway as she seeks to regain match fitness following her long lay-off.

If she sets her heart on it and can give sufficient commitment, there is no doubt Diver is capable of forcing her way into new national coach Kate Carpenter's plans as the season progresses.

Micaela may not be the only mother at Glasgow 2014 as Larkfield's Lisa Bowman is set to make her international return following a maternity break.

The giant goal-shooter looks likely to be named in Carpenter's panel for the Test series against the Republic of Ireland which starts on Friday week.

Meanwhile, Hannah Willis endorsed Causeway as credible challengers for a top-four finish in the Premier League in spite of her Graduates team beating them by 50 goals at the weekend.

The ambitious Ballymoney club have their sights set on finishing next to the established big three of Belfast Ladies, Graduates and Lisburn's Larkfield.

Northern Ireland vice-captain Willis believes that is a very realistic aim in spite of Causeway's stuttering start to the campaign.

After just squeezing past Bangor in their opening game, Causeway were beaten 85-29 by Larkfield followed by that 76-26 defeat at the hands of Grads.

"I think Causeway are a good side who should strongly challenge for fourth this season even though we really ran away with the game in the last quarter," said Willis.

"It took us a while to get going but we were able to pull away after half-time by forcing errors and turning over a lot of ball."

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