Netball Europe Under 21 Open Championships

Northern Ireland U21: 45 – Wales U21: 42

Sunday 7 October 2018 in Belfast, Northern Ireland

There was a massive sense of urgency for both teams ahead of the final match of the Netball Europe Under 21 Open Championships as both nations looked for maiden wins in the weekend showpiece.

Northern Ireland made a strong start to the match with a 3-goal lead in the opening few minutes as the Welsh shooting radar failed to function in the initial stages. Nevertheless, thanks to Beca Hughes’ boundless energy at goal attack, Welsh scores were not far away and Wales quickly came back into the game with Christine Shaw making a nuisance of herself in front of the Welsh goal. There was a pause in play as one of the Northern Irish shooters suffered a blow but the game was soon resumed and by the time the whistle blew Wales were back level with the opposition.

Again, some inaccuracy at goal meant that there were no early goals at the start of the second 15, but eventually Wales took the lead for the first time in the match. Leila Thomas made an outstanding save and then proceeded to stride quickly up court to set up Wales for a straightforward goal. However, the hosts were never far away, keeping up the pressure on the scoreline and taking a narrow advantage into half-time.

The game remained tight as the third period began, Hughes and Jenkins both maintaining their accuracy to keep the score ticking along. Miquie Walker Jones had an immediate impact for Wales by making a turnover soon after coming onto court and Wales were then able to take the initiative and a meagre lead going into the last quarter.

There was tension all around the Antrim Forum as the final quarter got underway. Wales kept a hold of their slender advantage for a time until Walker Jones made a great catch from a botched Northern Irish pass and Wales were able to extend their lead to three. Yet there was a momentum swing still to come and Northern Ireland produced some quality play off centre pass to make it 39-all with six minutes left to come. Wales seemingly had no answer to the resurgent hosts and despite attempting to make some late changes, it was Wales who finished the weekend empty handed.

Welsh Netball would like to thank the volunteer management for their hard work in preparing and leading the squad into the tournament. We would also like to thank O’Neills for providing teamwear for a Welsh netball squad for the very first time.

Welsh Netball would like to also thank the Welsh netball community for all of its support over the weekend. We congratulate England on their victory in the tournament.

Quarter scores: 11-11 (11-11); 11-9 (22-20); 9-12 (31-32); 14-10 (45-42)

Wales U21: Gwenan Williams, Georgia Jenkins, Rhian Evans, Beca Hughes, Catrin Hughes, Chloe Dyke, Shona O’Dwyer, Rebecca Baker, Christina Shaw, Eleri Micheal, Miquie Walker Jones and Leila Thomas.

Northern Ireland U21: Claire McCammon, Dearbhla Coleman, Emma Magee, Erin McGinn, Fionnuala Crosbie, Frances Keenan, Joyce Oluwaleye, Laura Mills, Maeve McCambridge, Michelle Magee, Rebecca McCullough and Shannon Smith.