Belfast Telegraph

Netball World Cup: Northern Ireland claim Sri Lanka victory

Northern Ireland's Noleen Armstrong (left) and Sri Lanka's Gayana Dissanayake battle for the ball during the Netball World Cup match at the M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool. Pic: Nigel French/PA Wire.
Northern Ireland's Noleen Armstrong (left) and Sri Lanka's Gayana Dissanayake battle for the ball during the Netball World Cup match at the M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool. Pic: Nigel French/PA Wire.
A general view of the action between Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka during the Netball World Cup match at the M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday July 13, 2019. See PA story NETBALL N Ireland. Photo credit should read: Nigel French/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use.

By Mark Staniforth, PA

Northern Ireland rebounded from a bruising opening defeat to Australia by claiming their opening victory in the Netball World Cup against Sri Lanka on Saturday.

Showing few ill effects from their 88-24 loss to the defending champions, the Northern Ireland team edged away from their persistent opponents to wrap up a 67-50 success.

Ranked eighth in the world, coach Dan Ryan's team will now focus on their third match in as many days on Sunday, when they face a crucial test against an impressive and well-supported Zimbabwe team.

Goalkeeper Gemma Lawlor said: "We knew what to expect against Australia and we had a real opportunity today to take the win.

"Ideally we would have pushed on and won by more so we've got plenty to work on on Sunday. We have to really pull ourselves together because in many ways this will be our most important match."

Lawlor made her World Cup debut four years ago when her team confounded expectations to finish eighth, and a similar finish in Liverpool is the minimum of their expectations.

But as they head towards the placement rounds they will need to improve on a slow start against the Sri Lankans, who restricted them to just a five-point advantage at the end of the first quarter.

Ireland consistently increased their advantage with Emma Magee scoring with 29 of her 32 goal attempts and goal shooter Noleen Armstrong and Shaunagh Craig weighing in with 22 and 16 respectively.

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