INF World Ranking - 8
Capital city - Belfast
Population - 1.8M
Best Commonwealth Games Finish - 7th (2014)
The 2018 Commonwealth Games will be Northern Ireland’s second appearance in the netball at the Games, having made their debut in Glasgow 2014. Now currently ranked 8th in the INF World Rankings, Northern Ireland have been showing that they certainly are a netballing nation on the rise. Their silver medal finish at the Netball Europe Open last October showed that Northern Ireland can pose a threat to any of the sides competing at the Games.
Northern Ireland had a great start to 2018 too by qualifying for next year’s Netball World Cup by taking a second place finish in the Netball World Cup 2019 Regional Qualifiers – Europe back in January. Their victory over Wales ensured qualification for Liverpool next year.
Not only did Northern Ireland finish 7th overall last time out in Glasgow, but they also were the seventh highest scorers with 269 to their name.
Head Coach, Elaine Rice, was the first coach of all twelve competing nations to name her squad ahead of the Games. Over half the squad were present at Glasgow 2014 and will have prior Commonwealth Games experience. They are, Niamh Cooper, Michelle Drayne, Noleen Lennon, Lisa McCullough, Caroline O’Hanlon, Fionnuala Toner. In Glasgow 2014, Noleen Lennon was the teams top scorer and the tenth highest overall scorer with 117 goals.
Captain Caroline O’Hanlon recently caught up with GC2018.com, to discuss her remarkable life as a double international and being a part time doctor. Read more here.
for Commonwealth Games
Match schedule – Preliminary Round
Northern Ireland’s opener is against the hosts and defending Gold Medalists, Australia. There certainly will be a magic atmosphere for this game with it being the first match featuring the hosts at the Commonwealth Games.
Next up for Elaine Rice’s side is a tie with South Africa. The Proteas finished 6th at Glasgow 2014, just ahead of Northern Ireland who finished 7th. Both sides did not meet last time round but are both in good form making this an interesting tie.
Match number three will be against Jamaica, a side they played in the prelims at Glasgow 2014 which ended 65-34 in favor of the Sunshine Girls.
After a day of rest, Northern Ireland will play Barbados. Both sides were in separate pools during Glasgow 2014 but will meet in their penultimate Preliminary game in the Gold Coast.
Their final game of the prelims comes against Fiji who’s last appearance at a Commonwealth Games was in Melbourne 2006. These sides met at the Netball Europe Open back in October in which Northern Ireland were victorious.
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