Northern Ireland came back from losing the first set to beat Ireland 18-25, 25-22, 28-26, 25-22, and make a winning start to their campaign in Pool A of the CEV European Championships Small Countries Division.
Ireland took a firm grip at the start of the opening set and never let it slip. Trailing 0-2, Northern Ireland staged something fo a fightback, but Ireland captain Edel Nolan punctured the revival with a power hit down the line to take it to 15-9 and her team pulled away to take the set 25-18.
Northern Ireland hit back to take the second set 25-22 but not adfter they had to repel a spirited comeback after leading 19-11 at one stage. A service error finally gave them the set.
The third set was just as fiercely contested. Northern Ireland came back from 1-6 down to 6-6, but the main drama was saved until the business end of the set. With ireland up against it, Nolan saved two set points with her hitting , however Northern Ireland’s go to hitter Chloe Walkingshaw, who had a fine match, produced two spikes of her own to give Northern Ireland their third setpoint abd Shannon Lyness served the winning point to make it 28-26.
this gave Northern Ireland the momentum to go on and complete the job in the fourth set. Leading 8-4 and 16-15 at the technical time-outs, the teams traded point for point at the end of the but Northern Ireland winning it on their second match point, Walkinshaw firing the clinching point. “I’m so proud of the girls, but we wouldn’t have done it without our coach who only came in six months ago”
Head coach Callum Grieve said: “We brought on Michelle Diffin in the second set and she made the difference and scored some crucial points. I’d also like to mention Jemma Calvin, who is just 17, and Zara Close, 16, who both did excellent jobs.
Ireland’s head coach Willem Klaas Roosenburg commented: “I think we played terribly and I’m really disappointed. No doubt, I thought we should have won this.
Captain Edel Nolan added: “I think we could have played better and we’re all disappointed”