By Tony Leen
DCU Mercy 72 UCC Ambassador Glanmire 71
Heartbreak for five in a row chasing Glanmire, but women’s basketball produced another piece of made-for-tv theatre as DCU edged a thrilling National Cup final by a point.
The advantage swayed one way then the other, and that was just in the final minute, as first Claire Rockall and finally, on the buzzer, Ashley Prim, rimmed out with shots that would have delivered history for Mark Scannell’s girls.
“If you’d offered me Ashley with an open shot to win it, I’d have taken it,” magnanimous Glanmire coach said afterwords. “Claire (Rockall) had a good look just before too, and we missed a lot of gimmes today. But that shouldn’t take away from DCU Mercy, they’ve had an unbelievable weekend.”
An incredible weekend of success it was for Mark Ingle and DCU Mercy who swept the Underage and National Cup treble – the first club to do it since Glanmire themselves in 2007 - but the Sunday success was the sweetest of all, as they edged the winners of the last four years to the podium.
Sarah Woods on 21 points, was a captain leading by example, but at the end of the third quarter Glanmire enjoyed a 59-54 lead.
“We didn’t do bad down the stretch for a team that doesn’t have the same experience in this situation as Glanmire,” said DCU Mercy coach Mark Ingle.
With 2.42 left in the game Ashley Prim, who made 5 of 7 three-point tries, hit one to edge Glanmire 68-67 in front, but what may have been the decisive intervention was yet to come – and it came from the officials, who called an unsportsmanlike foul on Prim with 1.35 left. From the press seats at the other end of the court, it was a regular foul at most, but it infuriated the Glanmire bench which insisted Prim got both hands on the ball. “ A disgraceful call,” Scannell labelled it.
Alex Masaquel made one of two from the line, but with possession to go with it, Glanmire were chasing the dream thereafter.
At one point in the second quarter a Sarah Woods inspired DCU Mercy opened up an eleven-point gap (35-24). Woods was nailing her left side jumpers for a ten-point first half, and Glanmire were struggling from the field, converting only 35%. They would finish on that percentage too, shooting a mere 28 from 80 from the field.
But four years of producing when it mattered most hadn’t been parked on the side of the M7 up from Cork, and Glanmire would dig in and hold their Dublin rivals scoreless for the remaining 4.16 of the half. Serious stuff.
Dwyer and Rockall went in for scores, and two from two from the FT line from Prim had the champions within five.
Next, the American drained a three before Dwyer converted once more (her 14th point) to tie things up.
It was hardly a surprise, given the swing in momentum, that Casey Grace converted from the baseline to complete a remarkable transformation for a 37-35 half-time Glanmire lead. Nip and tuck, and it would stay that way to the final shot, the final second.
DCU Mercy: Sarah Woods (21), Tiffany Corselli (15), Rachel Huijsdens (11).
Glanmire: Grainne Dwyer (18), Ashley Prim (18), Adily Martucci (11)