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Northern Ireland net ideal start in Nations Cup quest

Tournament favourites Northern Ireland had to dig deep for victory over Botswana in their Nations Cup netball opener. The girls in green fell behind briefly in the third quarter but had edged back in front by the last break and eventually came out 41-37 winners.

New coach Julie Kimber was true to her pledge that those who have been able to commit most to pre-tournament training would get their chance.

Consequently, she didn't start with her strongest seven, with first choice defender Fionnuala Toner the highest profile player left on the bench.

New vice-captain Niamh Cooper was paired with skipper Gemma Gibney (pictured) in the back circle before being replaced by Toner during the third quarter.

A tight second quarter left the score at 21-19 at half-time before Botswana went ahead. Kimber's girls went into the last 15 minutes leading 30-29 and, with substitutes impressing, successfully closed out a vital victory before facing hosts Singapore today.

Belfast Telegraph

From Belfast Telegraph