Northern Ireland got what they were looking for in their final tri-series netball match at Tacarigua’s Eastern Regional Sport Complex Indoor Arena on Friday evening: a confidence boosting win over Barbados.
The Irish started quickly, and took a first quarter lead, but faded badly in the second period. But towards the end of the third they found a spark that led them to a 35-44 victory over Barbados, the highest ranked team in a tournament also featuring hosts Trinidad and Tobago (ranked tenth).
World No.8 Barbados would have seen Northern Ireland (ranked 11th) fade under the pressure of hosts T&T, but they were partially to blame for their own meltdown. Way too many poor passes, missed shots and footwork violations gave the world number eight the look of a rusty team.
Northern Ireland jumped out to an 8-4 lead in a fast-paced but low scoring first quarter, punctuated by a number of turnovers. But once Barbados found their rhythm, they pulled things back to within two goals in at the end of the period to trail 8-10.
That momentum set the Bajans up for a 12-6 run that would have seen them lead 20-16 by half time. Goal shoot Laurel Browne led that effort with 13 perfect shots before she was replaced in the second half.
For the Irish, goal shoot Noleen Lennon led the way, ending the match with 28-of-38 shooting. But it was goal attack Oonagh McCullough leading the late rally that stretched the match beyond Barbados, her 13 from 19 attempts including several shots from distance.
Also contributing to Northern Ireland’s cause was goal shoot Lisa Somerville (three goals from ten attempts in the second quarter), while for Barbados, goal shoot Shanica Wharton (12 of 20) and goal attack Nikita Piggott (10 of 20) were the other scorers.