NI's World Cup quest is boosted by promising warm-up triumph
Northern Ireland recorded an encouraging 59-54 victory over a strong England A team yesterday to maintain momentum ahead of next week's World Cup in Liverpool.
The returning Noleen Armstrong and major tournament newcomers Shauna Craig, Ciara Crosbie and Emma Magee shared the goals for the Warriors in this second warm-up match in Manchester.
With both Michelles, Magee and Drayne, not yet fit to play, Dan Ryan maintained the same back circle and mid-court trio throughout the hour.
Vice-captain Fionnuala Toner partnered goalkeeper Gemma Lawlor with wing defence Niamh Cooper and Neamh Woods either side of captain Caroline O'Hanlon, while Lisa McCaffrey sat out the action.
Armstrong and Belfast Ladies clubmate Crosbie played the first half before giving way to former England Under 21 international Craig and Westside's Emma Magee.
Formerly Lennon, the newly-married Armstrong put her honeymoon on hold and came out of retirement after Lisa Bowman broke her leg last month and is now relishing being back.
"Playing in this tournament wasn't on my radar but now it feels like an exciting opportunity to be involved in another World Cup and I'm really looking forward to it," she enthused.
"I'm used to playing with most of the girls which makes the job a bit easier and these tough friendlies will be beneficial for getting me up to speed."
Having beaten Barbados 61-45 on Thursday, the Warriors will play Test matches against Trinidad today (5pm) and Malawi tomorrow (3pm) ahead of their World Cup opener on Friday.