Ireland eases the heartache with state squad selection

The heartache of missing out on last year’s state squad was almost too much to bear for Karli Ireland.

So much so that she considered not applying in 2013.

But a last-minute change of heart  proved the right decision and the 

19-year-old from Woodberry will don the blue uniform of NSW at next 

week’s Under-21 National Netball Championships in Canberra.

“I wasn’t going to apply at all,” Ireland said.

“Last year I was in the 19s [NSW] squad but I didn’t quite make it; ­unfortunately I was one of the last two players that were cut.

“But after talking to some of the coaches this year I put one in – it was last minute and it was just in time.”

Ireland was announced in the 12-­person squad in November and has been training in Sydney, at the Anne Clarke Centre, three times a week during the opening two months of the year.

The national titles, which start on Sunday, will be her first after representing NSW All Schools in the under-15 age group while attending Hunter Sports High.

The 180-centimetre tall defender said she looked forward to the ­experience and helping NSW to their sixth straight crown.

“NSW has won it five years in a row so there is a bit of pressure on us,” she said. 

“There is basically a brand new team even though a few of us played together in different things before – it will be a challenge, but hopefully we can do the job.”

The Maitland and Newcastle junior representative, who started playing ­netball with Beresfield at age 11, said her selection in the state squad was aided by a season with Hunter United in the Netball NSW State League.

“Playing in Sydney all the time after missing out on 19s let the coaches have another look at me,” she said.

“It was a really good competition and a really quick pace.”

The three-time state age champion will go around again in the Netball NSW State League, but this time for newly formed outfit Newcastle.

Ireland will be joined by former state under-21s representative and two-time Maitland A-grade premiership winner Kellyann Grayson, as well as Lochinvar high school teacher Zara Francisco.

The midweek competition kicks off later this month.

Ireland will also play her fifth top grade season in Newcastle this year, 

this time attempting to defend her ­premiership crown with The Junction.

The Under-21 National Netball Championships wrap up on Sunday, March 17.

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