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Lack of accuracy haunts Northern Ireland Warriors once again as focus turns to World Cup qualifiers

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Northern Ireland’s Emma Magee in action against Scotland

Northern Ireland’s Emma Magee in action against Scotland

PA

Northern Ireland’s Emma Magee in action against Scotland

Elaine Rice’s Northern Ireland Warriors were left to rue inferior finishing as they went down 43-33 to bitter rivals Scotland in yesterday’s ninth-place play-off.

Northern Ireland’s shooting percentage at this tournament has been by some distance the worst of the 12 competing teams and that Achilles heel hurt them again against the Thistles.

Underdogs Northern Ireland had their noses in front for most of the opening period, which finished with the score 10-10, but began falling away in the lead-up to half-time.

A run of seven unanswered goals from 14-13 down put the Scots in the driving seat and they consolidated their position by edging the third quarter 10-9 with a goal right on the buzzer.

A nightmare mix-up over Emma Magee’s bib then meant Northern Ireland had to spend the first 100 precious seconds of that last quarter with just six players on court.

The Surrey Storm star soon netted on her return to cut the deficit to six but that was as good as it got for the girls in green as the Scots surged away to lead by 13 at one stage.

The Warriors finished with a defiant flourish, scoring the last three goals of the game, with iconic captain Caroline O’Hanlon showing her hunger and creativity to the bitter end.

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Evergreen veteran O’Hanlon turns 38 the day of the closing ceremony of Birmingham 2022 but Northern Ireland’s most capped player of all time has had a magnificent tournament.

Northern Ireland’s defensive effort here has won widespread praise with imposing young goalkeeper Michelle Magee enhancing her reputation and Fi Toner at her feisty best.

However, what happened at the other end will be cause for concern ahead of October’s crucial World Cup qualifiers with just under one in every three shots being missed.


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