Singleton’s Supervalu Brunell produced a ‘Houdini’ performance to dump championship favourites DCU Mercy out of the Paudie O’Connor Women’s National Cup with a stunning semi-final win at the Neptune Stadium.
Brunell went into the game on the back of a 2-9 league record and were given no chance of even making the semi competitive.
The one man to quietly believe his team had the weaponry to bring down DCU was coach Tim O’Halloran, who couldn’t hide his smile afterwards.
“We had played them away from home in the league and I saw enough that day to suggest we weren’t a million miles away from toppling them.”
The Brunell coach who previously led Blue Demons to a President’s National Cup win knows you need special players on special days.
“When Danielle O’Leary went off injured in the second quarter the players rallied, particularly in defence, and in the end the class of our American Treyanna Clay helped take DCU to the cleaners.”
The mood in the DCU Mercy (10-1) camp was naturally one of massive disappointment and shock as coach Mark Ingle reflected on this huge shock for his team.
“There is only one reason we lost this game and that is a simple lack of heart. Brunell battled as if their lives depended on it and I did warn my players that the DNA of this club is all about spirit and good luck to them in the final.”
In the opening quarter it was the equivalent of shadow boxing as both teams traded baskets but DCU were given a warning that Brunell’s American Treyanna Clay was a handful in the offensive court.
The Dublin side looked impressive in the closing minutes and edged into a 22-15 lead at the end of quarter and Brunell were dealt a blow when captain Danielle O’Leary had to off injured two minutes into the restart.
In reality it probably worked in Brunell’s favour as replacement Laura Morrissey gave an exhibition in the manner she defended the DCU Mercy captain, Sarah Woods.
Katie Walshe, in her first season playing Super League for Brunell, showed no nerves and knocked down a couple of crucial shots that helped her side lead 37-34 at the interval.
As the third quarter matured it was evident Brunell were hanging tough as their determination and spirit was clear to see.
Indeed Brunell’s Lithuanian, Greta Tamasanskaite, who failed to register a basket in the first half, got a hot hand when the game hung in the balance; she drained consecutive three-pointers midway through this period.
DCU were now on the ropes and despite leading 57-56 heading into the fourth quarter they were blitzed on the restart, with Morrissey and Tamasanskaite shooting monstrous threes.
The old adage ‘bottle for the battle’ sprung to mind as Brunell dived on everything in the final stages to complete the shock of Cup semi-final weekend.
“I’m incredibly proud of the team,” gushed O’Halloran. “We were dealt a big blow when Danielle went out in the second quarter, but the girls all regrouped so well and what a superb team performance that was.
“DCU Mercy are top of the league for a reason, but I thought our defensive intensity and our hunger and hustle was what won it for us. It’s incredible to think we are going back to another Cup final — that’s historic for the club, and we will savour every moment of it before knuckling down to get ready for Killester when the time comes.”
Top scorers for Brunell: Clay 31, Walshe 14, Tamasanskaite 10.
DCU Mercy: Russell 21, Huijsdens 17, Woods 15.