St. Mary’s Castleisland 62, Killarney Cougars 45
In what St. Mary’s coach, Conor Brosnan described as resembling a scene from a gladiatorial battle, both teams tried to get to grips with each other in the Hula Hoops Women’s National Intermediate Cup qualifying round in Castleisland on Sunday afternoon.
The was also the matter of a place in the semi-finals to fight for.
The caginess on both sides was evident for the first four minutes until Lynn Jones scored the opening point from the free throw line to give Cougars first blood.
Castleisland responded with the fantastic Miriam Leane (4) and Eileen O’Connor. before Killarney hit back through Amanda Brosnan, Lynn Jones (6) and Cassandra Buckley.
The introduction of Lorraine Scanlon (4) and Aoife Nolan (5) settled the home side to take a slim 14-13 advantage at the end of the first.
Castleisland struck fastest in the second quarter with very strong bench play as they jumped out to a big 13 point lead thanks to Denise Dunlea, Mags Fitzgerald, Lorraine Scanlon (7) Phil O’Connor, and the effective Miriam Leane (5).
The heart of the Killarney girls resembled that of a warrior as they fought back to narrow the margin before the interval thanks to the industrial Jones (8), Allyson Caggio (3), Brosnan and Rheanne O’Shea. The score at the break was: 32-29 in favour of St. Mary’s.
Take its Toll
The third quarter started to take its toll on the visitors as the freshness and rotation of the Castleisland girls throughout the first half was evident as coach, Conor Brosnan had used 11 of his 12 available warriors.
The Mary’s girls began to dominate both ends of the floor. They were controlling the boards and high intensity defence, thanks to the strength and rebounding of Scanlon, Neasa Sheehy and Mags Daly and this was aided by the exceptional shooting of the O’Connor sisters, Eileen and Phil with Leane and Nolan flying as the home side pulled away once more.
Free Throw Line
The visitors only four points in the quarter all coming from the free throw line from Amanda Brosnan.
The final quarter saw Mary’s again start brighter with baskets from Scanlon and Phil O’Connor and a big three pointer from Leane which was like a dagger to the heart of the travelling supporters.
To their credit Killarney never gave in and added further scores from O’Shea, Caggio and Jones before the Castleisland ladies finished with a flourish of points from Nolan, Dunlea and the outstanding Leane. The final score was St. Mary’s, Castleisland 62. Killarney Cougars 45.
St. Mary’s team and scorers: Miriam Leane 17, Lorraine Scanlon 14, Aoife Nolan 11, Phil O’Connor 8, Eileen O’Connor 6, Denise Dunlea 4, Mags Fitzgerald 2, Maura Conroy, Aishling O’Sullivan, Mags Daly, Mary Herlihy, Neasa Sheehy.
Killarney Cougars team and scorers: Lynn Jones 19, Amanda Brosnan 11, Rheanne O’Shea 8, Allyson Caggio 5, Cassandra Buckley 2, Mags Cronin, Emer O’Neill, Megan Buckley, Chloe O’Doherty, Louise Ní Mhuircheartaigh.
Semi Final Against Maree
Coach Brosnan and his troops now advance to the National Cup Semi Final against Maree of Galway on the 7/8 January in Cork.
“We knew coming into this game and from past encounters against Killarney this would be a battle. Our plan was to rotate at least 10 girls in first half and we actually used 11,” said the coach.
“We were hoping our freshness and strength would provided us the extra edge in the third and that’s exactly what happened. They began to tire and we were just getting going at that stage.
Girls Were Fantastic
“I thought all 12 of our girls were fantastic. One girl on her own doesn’t win games and this group is brilliant from that aspect they all back each other up and if one girl is struggling guaranteed the next girl will pull her through and that’s exactly what happened tonight at stages.
“We’re delighted to be in an National Cup semi final and the last Kerry team left in the competition.
“It’s the best birthday present I could have asked for from the girls. We’ll keep the heads down now and we’ll go again. We’re very happy after this performance,” said Mr. Brosnan.
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