By Cian Locke
Ireland beat Switzerland 58-55 in the group phase of the FIBA U16 Women’s European Championship yesterday.
The sides were neck and neck throughout the Division B clash with star players Hazel Finn and Ciara Byrne leading them to glory in Podgorica, Montenegro.
Ireland made a hot start to the game with Ciara Byrne and Kate Hickey getting scores early-on. The girls in green displayed great intensity on the fast break. Switzerland attempted to fight back and reduce Ireland’s early lead but the Irish held them off to lead at the end of the first quarter, 17-8.
The Swiss’ fightback was in full-flow as the second quarter began. They caught Ireland sleeping on multiple occasions to slip in and get inside scores. Irish head coach Karl Kilbride called two timeouts in as many minutes to settle his players and they managed to hold on to their lead at halftime, 24-23.
Ireland maintained their lead during the third quarter through some good off-ball running and slipping in behind the Swiss defence. Siofra O’Shea and Abigail Rafferty worked hard on both offence and defence, which ultimately had Ireland leading, 42-40, heading in to the final quarter.
The final quarter saw an intensely close ten minutes of basketball. The Swiss kept attacking and took the lead halfway through. However, the work rate of the girls in green during the final quarter, especially Hazel Finn and O’Shea, gave Ireland the win, 58-55.