Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Welcome boost for Rice's NI girls

By Richard Bullick

Published 16/08/2016

In control: Noleen Lennon did well after a retirement U-turn
In control: Noleen Lennon did well after a retirement U-turn

Northern Ireland's netballers bounced back from Saturday's disappointing defeat to clinch the Celtic Clash with a revenge victory over Scotland in Edinburgh.

A comprehensive 51-38 win was enough for Northern Ireland to triumph on aggregate with defender Fionnuala Toner named player of the tournament.

The weekend's two-Test series was arranged to officially launch Scotland's new world-class Oriam High Performance facility but the girls in green spectacularly pooped the party.

Being beaten 44-37 in the opening game in front of a vociferous sell-out crowd wasn't the way recently re-appointed head coach Elaine Rice wanted to start her third spell at the helm.

An injury which temporarily forced new captain Caroline O'Hanlon out of the action compounded the absence of three other mid-court regulars and the Scots took full advantage.

Double defeat for Rice's understrength squad would have left Northern Ireland facing a Commonwealth Games qualification crisis by threatening their top 12 world ranking.

Instead, yesterday's result, ending a run of four consecutive Test defeats dating back to May's Euro whitewash, provides a positive springboard for the road ahead.

Rice even had the luxury of emptying her bench in the last quarter as the same starting seven showed what Northern Ireland are capable of. New vice-captains Toner and Lisa Bowman did well while former skipper Noleen Lennon shone in the unfamiliar role of goal defence after being lured out of international retirement.

Lennon worked well in the back circle with regular goalkeeper Gemma Gibney, now Lawlor since getting married, with the eldest two Bowman sisters up front.

Leading 14-9 after the opening period, Rice's side was 10 up at half-time in yesterday's second Test and had stretched their advantage to a comfortable 40-25 going into the last quarter.

With Neamh Woods, Niamh Cooper, Michelle Drayne and hopefully Oonagh McCullough to add to the Celtic Clash squad, Northern Ireland can build upon this impressive victory.

Belfast Telegraph

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting?

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph