Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland girls' comeback stuns the home fans into silence

By Richard Bullick

Northern Ireland displayed fantastic character in coming from five down to silence the vociferous Scottish crowd with an ultimately deserved 37-32 victory in the SECC.

Their win, which stunned the Commonwealth hosts, ensures Northern Ireland go into tomorrow's seventh place play-off against Wales knowing they will at least emulate the top eight finish at the 2011 World Cup in Singapore.

It may not have been the perfect performance but the gallant greens showed great guts in digging deep to turn around a game which was slipping away from them.

They played with huge heart and although coach Kate Carpenter kept the starting seven on court throughout, Northern Ireland's superior fitness told.

With the Scots looking out on their feet, all-action centre Caroline O'Hanlon seemed to find extra energy in popping up everywhere to good effect.

Her colleagues in both the defensive and attacking circles really asserted themselves when it mattered as Northern Ireland decisively stretched clear.

Goalkeeper Gemma Gibney broke Scottish hearts with her effective interventions helped by Fionnuala Toner further out.

At the other end, another former captain Noleen Lennon found her rhythm again after multiple misses in the third quarter threatened to derail the encouraging comeback.

Northern Ireland had began brilliantly, racing into a 5-0 lead early on before a cynical Scottish timeout broke their momentum and the hosts hit a purple patch of their own.

Scotland were 11-9 up at the first break and edged the second quarter by the minimum margin.

Going into the last, Northern Ireland's shot conversion rate was only 65 percent compared to 88 percent for the Scots, though they had just taken a one-goal advantage.

The final 15 minutes was exceptionally low-scoring as Carpenter's girls resolutely tightened the screw in keeping the home team to a mere three goals while they added seven at the other end.

NORTHERN IRELAND: G Gibney; N Masters, F Toner, C O'Hanlon, H Willis (capt), O McCullough, N Lennon.

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