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Warriors low key but we will take the win, says NI captain Caroline O’Hanlon

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Young shooter Dearbhla Coleman (right) scored 24 goals against Isle of Man while Kingsway clubmate Niamh Cooper impressed in defence for the Warriors

Young shooter Dearbhla Coleman (right) scored 24 goals against Isle of Man while Kingsway clubmate Niamh Cooper impressed in defence for the Warriors

Young shooter Dearbhla Coleman (right) scored 24 goals against Isle of Man while Kingsway clubmate Niamh Cooper impressed in defence for the Warriors

Captain Caroline O’Hanlon admitted her Northern Ireland team hadn’t hit the heights expected of themselves in yesterday’s 49-25 victory over the Isle of Man in Gibraltar.

Fresh from crushing Gibraltar 70-16 the day before, Elaine Rice’s wasteful Warriors were given a much tougher test by opponents 12 places below them in the world rankings.

A scrappy performance contributed to Northern Ireland only leading 23-17 at half-time and, although the favourites pulled away in the third quarter, it was an underwhelming win.

Coach Rice handed Dearbhla Coleman her first international start alongside Jenna Bowman up front.

Although playing goal attack here, natural lead shooter Coleman netted eight times in the opening period, but the Manx were delighted to be just 11-9 down at the first break.

Emma Magee had moved out to wing attack with Coleman replacing Evelyn McCagherty in the only change to the Warriors starting seven, with Michelle Drayne still sidelined by injury.

Rice reverted to the formation which began against Gibraltar just before half-time, but it was the claustrophobic pressure from Northern Ireland’s defence which had the greatest effect.

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Michelle Magee, Fionnuala Toner and Niamh Cooper dominated to the extent that Isle of Man didn’t score until the 13th minute of a third quarter which the Warriors won 12-2.

Coleman and Frances Keenan replaced Bowman and Emma Magee in the shooting circle late in the third quarter with O’Hanlon and McCagherty swapping places in the mid-court.

Maria McCann, who had won her first cap against Gibraltar, came on in the back circle for the last quarter and was joined midway through by Olivia McDonald.

A couple of late misses meant Northern Ireland’s goal tally fell just short of the half-century mark with 20-year-old Coleman topped the scoring chart with 24.

“It was a tough physical battle and all credit to the Isle of Man, who brought great intensity from the first whistle, but we didn’t perform to the level we should,” admitted O’Hanlon.


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