SHONA O’Dwyer realised a childhood dream when her name was belted out to 9,000 adoring netball fans at Arena Birmingham on Saturday as the new Vitality Netball Superleague season started.

Swindon talent O’Dwyer was making her topflight debut for Celtic Dragons against 2016 champions Surrey Storm.

The game ended in rather thrilling circumstances, with Storm snatching a dramatic one-point victory live on Sky Sports despite Dragons winning both middle quarters.

For O’Dwyer, Saturday ticked the first of several boxes she would like to fulfil in the coming years.

She said: “There were a few nerves, but I had my team right behind me to support me.

“Because the court is lit up and the crowd is quite dark, you can forget it’s on television – once you’re playing you forget about those watching really.

“There is a lot of potential in the (Celtic Dragons) squad - we’re young, but there is lots to learn so the potential in the team is huge

Last year she captained Wales’ U21 squad to silver at the European Championships and has recently been selected to represent her country’s senior team.

But O’Dwyer certainly knows how to stay close to her roots, and this summer will represent Shrivenham in the Swindon Summer League – as she has done since she was a teenager.

Having learnt her trade with Croft Netball, the Wiltshire talent progressed through the age ranks with Bath.

She played in the NPL, an age group mimic of the Superleague which she now plays in.

And her grounding with the Somerset club certainly seems to have paid off – as has her decision to drop hockey from her schedule, a sport she also played at a high level.

“It’s nice to be indoors,” joked O’Dwyer

“That’s why I chose netball. But seriously, I enjoy the training associated with netball and the sport is growing so much.

“If you’re just starting out, always enjoy what you do – and always try your best.

“Give 100 per cent with everything and never believe that you’re beaten – that would be my advice.

“Superleague requires great concentration, and there is a lot more pressure. But I still find it enjoyable, I play my best game when I’m enjoying myself.”

Proud father Mark added: “The whole day was fantastic with the venue and fans making it the most special of days.

“While Shona was disappointed with the result, she was extremely pleased with the performance that she and all her teammates put in.

“The support from Dragons fans was fantastic.”

Shona will be back in action on Saturday when Celtic Dragons host Team Bath at Cardiff Met University.