It was celebrations all round at St. Joseph’s Presentation Girls’ Secondary School Castleisland as its basketball teams enjoyed success on the double over the May Bank Holiday Weekend.
The school’s first year team won the National Plate competition in UL after six tough games over a two day period. The team had already won the prestigious Coakley Cup in December 2015 and to end the season with a national title was an added bonus.
The following day the Junior A squad made the long journey to the National Arena in Tallaght to take on Scoil Chriost Ri Portlaoise in the national semi final.
This was going to be a major task as the Portlaoise school has an all girls enrolment of over 900. After a titanic struggle in an exciting game where the lead changed hands many times the Castleisland girls pulled away in the fourth quarter to win 37-28.
Whole Team Worked
Millie Luck scored 13 points in this game, including two three-pointers, as the whole team worked hard to break down an excellent Portlaoise side.
The final was fixed for one hour later against Mercy Mounthawk. The Tralee girls had beaten Pres. Killarney 58-42 in their semi final.
The stage was set for a local derby in a repeat of the South West Regional final. The Castleisland girls had won the regional final and it is never easy in basketball to beat the same team twice.
The Mounthawk girls were coming in as underdogs but knew exactly what they had to do to turn the tables. Another factor in Mounthawk’s favour was the fact that Castleisands captain, Kayla O’Connor was carrying a serious ankle injury. Mounthawk raced into an early 8-2 lead but some good work from Brid Moriarty and Joyce O’Connor restored parity and the quarter ended 14-11 in the Islanders favour.
By half time the lead had been extended to ten points with some very good team defence and nice baskets by Orla O’Sullivan and Millie Luck.
Mounthawk began to slowly close the gap as the Pres Girls tired in the third and fourth quarters after their tough semi final. By the middle of the fourth quarter the lead was down to two. Enter Emma O Regan from the bench to score two quick baskets. A steal by Kayla O’Connor lead to her being fouled as she took her lay up. Kayla made one of her free throws.
Further good baskets from Brid Moriarty and Joyce O’Connor saw Pres. Castleisland close out the game on a score of 39-30.
20th. National Title
The Junior A girls were immensely proud of their achievement in winning a 20th national title for the school since 1994.
Coach John Enright – who has been the driving force down through all these bountiful years was delighted with the latest additions to the school’s trophy cabinet. He has also guided several pupils to international trials and caps over the years.
“It wasn’t easy, and we didn’t want it to be easy. We had the hardest qualifying pool and a tough semi final and final but our hard work, ability and preparation saw us through in the end.
“It was a glorious end to three days of excellent basketball with the girls learning that nothing comes easy and hard work pays off in the long run. I’m looking forward to whatever challenges next season brings already,” said Mr. Enright.
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