Vitality Netball World Cup: Scotland and Northern Ireland aim to build on campaigns
By Emma Thurston
Last Updated: 21/07/19 11:36am
Scotland and Northern Ireland are both aiming to build on their respective Vitality Netball World Cup campaigns going into the next four-year cycle.
Both teams went into this competition with ambitions of top-eight finishes but losses along the way meant Scotland had to settle for 11th and Northern Ireland 10th
Dan Ryan's Northern Ireland faced off against Trinidad and Tobago in a bid to secure ninth but weren't able to end a demanding tournament schedule on a victorious note.
Ryan, who has only been in charge of the national side since November last year, is an astute head coach and when it comes to assessing his side's performances will always say it as it is. His post-match assessment after their 57-48 loss to Trinidad and Tobago showed that.
"Really disappointed in today, I thought that we started the game relatively well and lost the plot in the second quarter to lose it 17-10. When you've got a team with Sammy Wallace as your shooter it's hard to come back from a deficit like that," Ryan said to Sky Sports.
"Then we were just on survival mode trying to work really hard to get turnovers and then obviously everything else is pressurised and it makes the job really difficult. A tough pill to swallow and the second quarter really hurt us."
10th for @netballni at the @NetballWorldCup after going down to Trinidad in our final match. So grateful to be here & so proud of my team for the way they represented. The week threw down so many challenges but we showed up, stood up & faced them all! Always learning & growing 🙌— Dan Ryan (@DanRyan84) July 20, 2019
Overall the PwC Warriors' campaign had its ups and its downs. A huge knock to captain Caroline O'Hanlon against the Australian Diamonds on the opening day rocked them, although she returned to court and led their charge superbly.
Then, a heart-breaking loss to the Zimbabwe Gems thwarted their chances of striving for their original top-eight goal. Despite having to re-evaluate their ambitions, Ryan's team showed tenacity and heart throughout with individuals stepping up, including young Emma Magee.
At 21 years old, Magee used this tournament to set out her stall at GA and overall, their head coach knows that this campaign can be built upon.
"I think that there are a lot of things to be really grateful for and a lot of things that we can take away as successes in little parts," said head coach Ryan.
"We obviously would have loved to have more wins on the board and we probably had some opportunities at the start of the week to have a very different tournament than what we did."
As part of Northern Ireland's preparation, they faced England's men's side the Knights. It was Ryan's bid to give his players a taster of the pressure that they'd be under in Liverpool and is something that he believes is necessary when it comes to future pre-tournament camps.
"We just need more match practice under pressure, I think that it's so hard to come to a World Cup and you learn how to play under pressure in these situations," notes Ryan.
"But, we're just not match-hardened enough to experience that as a group. That's a real learning experience for next time, to have a preparation where we are really tested in the lead up because that's where you find out about yourselves and each other and that's what matters.
"Yes we had lofty expectations this time around and I thought that we could do well. Definitely a top-eight finish was what we were aiming for but it is what it is and we need to make sure that we take the learnings from it and get it right in the next opportunity."
The Scottish Thistles experienced different emotions on their final day of the tournament in Liverpool as Gail Parata's side pushed past Barbados 53-42 to secure 11th position.
It's a tournament in which Claire Maxwell made her 100th appearance for the outfit while 17-year-old Emma Barrie emerged on the world stage and turned more than a few heads.
"I think that over the duration of the competition we've really come on," fellow shooter Lynsey Gallagher said to Sky Sports.
"We've put in performances to be really proud of against some of the top teams in the world. Yes, we didn't get in the top eight which was our target but I think that it's a really good platform to build upon.
"We've closed the gap against some of the top teams and I do think that there's so much more to come from the Scottish Thistles, the gap is closing and we're really pushing to get up the world rankings."
For head coach Parata, one of the most encouraging things to emerge from this campaign is the age profile of her squad and the potential that they have to build together.
"We have nine players in our squad who are at a World Cup for the first time, we're the second youngest team at the World Cup so I'm really proud of what they've done here and I believe that we're going places."
The set-up for elite netball in Scotland is strong and should help them continue to up the ante.
The Strathclyde Sirens' presence in the Vitality Netball Superleague allows consistent netball together and exposure to high-class opponents. The introduction of Karen Atkinson as their Technical Director will directly assist Parata and the national side too.
For both Scotland and Northern Ireland now is the time to reflect and recharge before attacking the next four-year cycle with gusto. Ryan, Parata and all involved with both outfits will take stock and then look to drive on in order to continue to raise their sides' performance levels and the profile of the sport while they're at it.
Watch the final day of the Vitality Netball World Cup across Sky Sports. Coverage of the bronze final and final will be live on Sky Sports Netball from 2pm and on the Sky Sports YouTube channel.