Netball World Cup: NI netball team 'need more competitive games' to progress

O'Hanlon says Ireland need to play more regular games against strong opposition
O'Hanlon says N Ireland need to play more regular games against stronger opposition

Northern Ireland captain Caroline O'Hanlon says her team need to play more competitive matches to improve their chances in major tournaments.

NI finished 10th in the Netball World Cup in Liverpool after losing to Trinidad & Tobago in a play-off game.

"It's very difficult for us coming into these tournaments because we don't have the competitive opportunities.

"We need to reflect on how NI can go forward, how we can get more chances to play strong teams," said O'Hanlon.

"That's the only way that you are going to learn and that young players are going to get that experience they need."

'Too many errors at crucial times'

Before losing the ninth/10th place play-off on Saturday, Northern Ireland suffered heavy defeats by eventual finalists New Zealand and Australia, as well as going down to Zimbabwe and Malawi.

They did, however, beat Sri Lanka in the first stage of the competition and saw off Barbados in their final group game.

"I think we played well in patches and showed glimpses of what we can do but we made too many errors at crucial times," said O'Hanlon.

"It's all well and good coming into these tournaments and building your performance as you go on, but you want to really be hitting the ground running in your first match.

"We need to go back to the drawing board and see how we can move things forward for the next competition."

NI coach Dan Ryan
Coach Dan Ryan believes NI have the potential to do better

Northern Ireland's Australian-born coach Dan Ryan says his group of players must take the positives from their performances but agrees with his skipper that the team need to play more "pressure" fixtures.

"We need to keep it in perspective as it has been eight years since Northern Ireland had the opportunity to compete in a World Cup and we were grateful to be there," said Ryan.

"We set some lofty expectations and obviously we fell short of those but we are thankful to finish in the top 10, although we believe we can do better.

"We need more opportunities to play in tight matches under pressure before a World Cup.

"It's difficult to expect young players in a team that haven't spent a lot of time together to execute pressure moments at a World Cup, and we haven't had that type of preparation.

"I'd like to see more funding and more support thrown behind the team."

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