Belfast Telegraph

NI women are out to produce another heroic World Cup feat

 

By Richard Bullick

Northern Ireland's netballers will be aiming to emulate their heroics of eight years ago as they chase a 2019 World Cup place this weekend in Perth.

Last time the European regional qualifying event was held in Scotland, Elaine Rice's side beat the hosts and Wales to take their place at Singapore 2011.

The same three teams will fight it out over the next three days for the last two European places at next year's finals, which will take place in Liverpool.

All three have qualified for the forthcoming Gold Coast Commonwealth Games by being in the top 12 of the world rankings.

The girls in green will be spurred on by the anguish of not making Sydney 2015, their hopes dashed by a heart-breaking 45-44 defeat against Scotland in Cardiff the previous May.

That agonising near miss still haunts the sport here as the significant funding cuts which resulted have left the players facing financial hardship ever since.

Rice and her players will have a watching brief tonight when Scotland and Wales get the weekend's triangular tournament under way (7.30pm).

Northern Ireland beat both teams to secure runners-up spot at last October's European Championships.

The hope is that Sunday's noon showdown with Scotland won't be a straight shootout for one remaining World Cup place on the back of two Welsh wins.

Belfast Telegraph

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