Kingsway hope Cooper's return can help them bounce back
Kingsway will aim to bounce back against champions Larkfield in the second round of fixtures in netball's NI Premier League tonight after coming up just short against Belfast Ladies.
Laura Montgomery's team were well placed to win their opening game, but Belfast Ladies, with Northern Ireland legend Noleen Armstrong playing a real captain's part up front, finished strongly to take the points.
Although Larkfield welcome back captain Caroline O'Hanlon from last weekend's British Fast5 All Stars duty, likewise Kingsway will be bolstered by the return of new Surrey Storm signing Niamh Cooper.
Dublin-based former club captain Clodagh McCambridge is a notable absentee for Kingsway this season, but Larkfield's familiar line-up is much more depleted.
Northern Ireland shooting star Lisa Bowman is understood to require ankle surgery, while her sister, former international Kyla, has joined Spires, leaving third sibling Jenna as Denise Prue's main goalscorer.
Tyrone Gaelic captain Neamh Woods is still recovering from finger surgery, while recently married former international Laura Mason was also absent last Friday night.
Larkfield, champions in five of the last six years, got their title defence under way by comfortably beating Belfast Ladies Seconds but will hope that having O'Hanlon back will make them much sharper tonight.
This season's seven-team Premier League, for which Netball NI are still seeking a title sponsor, also includes Valley and the second strings of Larkfield and Kingsway.
The spare team in each round of fixtures will play against Clare Winning's Northern Ireland Under-17 squad on that date in an imaginative move aimed at getting these emerging talents more competitive matches.
Tonight's fixtures (all games will be held at Lisburn Racquets): Belfast Ladies v Kingsway Seconds, Valley v Larkfield Seconds (both 7pm), Larkfield v Kingsway, Belfast Ladies Seconds v NI Under-17s (both 8.30pm)