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Caroline O'Hanlon of Northern Ireland.

Netball Northern Ireland has named its squad for the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, with five Vitality Netball Superleague players included.

Newly crowned champion Caroline O’Hanlon of Manchester Thunder will travel to her third Games, alongside sisters Emma and Michelle Magee, of Surrey Storm and Leeds Rhinos respectively.

Also included are Severn Stars’ Michelle Drayne and Storm’s Niamh Cooper as Northern Ireland look to better their eighth-place finish from 2018.

Northern Ireland face defending gold medallists England and reigning World Cup champions New Zealand in Group B, alongside Malawi, Uganda, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Head coach Elaine Rice is hoping her Vitality Netball Superleague players can use their experience when on court in Birmingham.

“The Superleague players have four more years’ experience this time,” said Rice.

“Four years ago, Michelle Magee hadn’t played Superleague but now she has a lot of court time there.

“Michelle is the ultimate professional, she works hard for the team so the experience she can bring despite being only 22 is brilliant.”

Wing defence Magee has made 18 appearances for Rhinos this season in just her second year of Vitality Netball Superleague, and will now take to the court alongside older sister Emma.

The Surrey Storm goal attack scored 44 goals in 18 appearances for her side this term after joining in 2019 off the back of an impressive World Cup campaign.

She’ll be joined in Birmingham by clubmate Niamh Cooper, who balances being a doctor with her time on court at wing defence, where she made 18 appearances this season.

O’Hanlon has been in blistering form this season as part of the Manchester Thunder side crowned Vitality Netball Superleague champions on Sunday, as they beat Loughborough Lightning 60-53 in the Grand Final.

The 37-year-old was ever-present for undefeated Thunder this term and will hope to transfer her form into national colours come July.

O’Hanlon’s experience will be leaned upon with head coach Rice believing they have a tough group in Birmingham.

She added: “Our group is really difficult which seems to happen at the Commonwealth’s, you get a strong group and a less strong one.

“The African nations are really coming good, and World Netball are working hard to promote the game in Africa.

“We have to meet Malawi, Uganda and Trinidad and Tobago they are nations that have all held a top 10 spot and are well worth it.

“Malawi and Uganda haven’t been out of the top eight for a while so it is the hardest group you could get along with the world and Commonwealth champions.”

Full Northern Ireland squad:

Jenna Bowman (Larkfield), Ciara Crosbie (Belfast Ladies/Oldham), Emma Magee (Westside/Surrey Storm), Georgie McGrath (Kingsway), Caroline O’Hanlon (Larkfield/Manchester Thunder), Michelle Drayne (Larkfield/Severn Stars), Niamh Cooper (Kingsway/Surrey Storm), Frances Keenan (Belfast Ladies), Fionnula Toner (Belfast), Michelle Magee (Westside/Leeds Rhinos), Olivia McDonald (Belfast), Maria McCann (Belfast Ladies)

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