In one of the best finals ever witnessed at basketball headquarters the capacity attendance was treated to a top-class game from start to finish.
Amanda O’Regan and Gráinne Dwyer gave Montenotte the perfect start in the opening minute with two baskets following deft moves to the hoop.
The champions responded immediately and with Aoife McDermott looking dangerous at the post the game was tied at eight points apiece in the third minute.
As the tempo increased Montenotte hit a purple patch and a brace of three-pointers from Dwyer and O’Regan gave them a 17-12 lead.
It was evident as the quarter matured that Montenotte were growing in confidence as their lead increased to 23-14 after nine minutes.
Sloppy play coming in the closing minute from Montenotte, however, allowed UL reduce the deficit, with Rachael Vanderwal nailing a crucial basket that saw them trail 25-19 entering the second quarter.
Turnovers were costing the Cork side big time as each time they threatened to go on a run they repeatedly lost possession with sloppy passing. Claire Rockall was doing some great work on the boards for Montenotte but UL were getting a number of second opportunities at scoring with the Cork side all struggling to block out. The pace of the game was incredible and Montenotte were playing the smarter basketball that saw them surge into a 10-point lead with 1.38 remaining to the interval.
Both sets of fans were getting behind their teams but with Dwyer playing out of her skin, the Cork side deservedly went in at the break with a commanding 12-point lead.
Both teams received a standing ovation as they left the court, in fact, because the half had been non-stop action, with both teams showing incredible commitment.
Loretta Maher opened the quarter with consecutive baskets for UL but, once again, Montenotte responded with a basket each from Niamh Dwyer and Rockall.
Suddenly, Montenotte went into meltdown as UL shot four unanswered baskets that reduced the deficit to 56-52 by the 25th minute.
The sides were level two minutes later when Vanderwal drained a fabulous jumper but once again Rockall gave the Cork side breathing space with a stunning three-pointer.
In the closing minutes of the quarter UL regained their composure and two late free throws from Rockall saw them lead by the minimum entering the final quarter.
UL looked to be taking control coming down the stretch when they raced into a five-point lead 72-67.
The closing minutes were extraordinary as the introduction of Áine McKenna proved a trump card as she amassed 14 points that brought her side back into the game to level it at 85 points apiece with 16 seconds remaining.
Although the American Emilee Harmon had a chance to win the game for Montenotte in normal time the buzzer just beat her basket to send the game to extra time.
In the added time Montenotte, inspired by captain Gráinne Dwyer, had more in the tank as they wore down their Limerick opponents to win their first title since 2009.
After the game the jubilant Montenotte coach Paul Kelleher praised his troops.
“We had great belief in our ability to do the business and in the end our character and class got us over the line,” Kelleher said.
“It was a tremendous final to be involved in as we defeated a very good side but five years without a trophy was far too long for our club.”
Scorers for Team Montenotte, Glanmire: G Dwyer 21, N Dwyer 19, C Rockall 15 A McKenna 14, E Harmon 12, A O’Regan 8, S Kenny 4.
Scorers for UL Huskies: A McDermott 27, R Vanderwal 16, L Galvin 14, L Maher 5, C Grant 2.
TEAM MONTENOTTE, GLANMIRE: A McKenna, C Rockall, N Dwyer, A O’Regan, G Dwyer, O Dupuy, L Falvey, K Walsh, A Dunlea, E Harmon, C O’Brien, H McCarthy, H Lenihan, V O’Driscoll, S Kenny.
UL HUSKIES: L Galvin, K Fahy, R Clancy, A Danaaher, C Grant, N O’Donovan, R Vanderwal, F Lynch, L Maher, A McDermott, M Brooks.
Referees: D Caballe (Cork), J Walsh (Dublin), L Cassidy (Dublin).