Basketball: Glanmire return to winner’s enclosure after battle royal

Ambassador UCC Glanmire were crowned Women’s Super League champions following a thrilling 76-63 win over Liffey Celtics at Waterford IT on Saturday night .

Basketball: Glanmire return to winner’s enclosure after battle royal

In a very competitive game, the Leesiders were pushed all the way - they led by three points with 1.25 remaining but a late scoring onslaught increased the margin to 13 at the final buzzer.

The Kildare side were competing well but an eye injury to their star, Tisha Phillips, three minutes into the second quarter changed the complexion of the game. At that stage, Celtics were 24-23 ahead but they failed to score in the closing six minutes of that quarter as Glanmire, inspired by the outstanding Gráinne Dwyer, took control and led 36-26 at the interval.

Philips returned in the third quarter but Glanmire maintained their 10 point lead entering the final quarter.

Coming down the stretch, the Kildare side pushed Glanmire hard before the Leesiders finished with a flurry of baskets to seal victory.

The outstanding Dwyer picked up the MVP award but Ashley Prim, Aine McKenna and Casey Grace all contributed handsomely to Glanmire’s ninth title win at this level.

Glanmire coach Mark Scannell was elated: “It was a battle but I thought our defence paved the way for our win as we restricted them to six points in the second quarter. We had a tough loss in the Cup final to DCU Mercy where a bounce of a ball separated us but I think the manner in which we finished the season is a testament to our spirit.”

His counterpart, Mark Byrne, pinpointed where the game was decided: “The loss of Tisha Philips in the second quarter was a tough blow and although nobody can say we would have won I think her huge influence in offence was missed.

“We have had a good season and we must now take some time out and hopefully come back a stronger unit next season.”

In the Women’s Division one Top Four final, Fr Mathew’s caused a shock when defeating league champions Marble City Hawks (48-43) in a low scoring physical encounter. The Kilkenny side, who play in the Super League next season, gained an early foothold thanks to the efforts of Kelly O’Hallahan and led 23-17 at the interval.

In the second half Fr Mathew’s increased the pressure in defence and with American Ashley Cunningham (MVP) posing problems at the post they reduced the deficit to the minimum entering the final quarter. The fourth period was dogged but Mathew’s executed key baskets that completed a National Cup and Top Four double for them to the delight of coach James Fleming. He said: “The squad have put in a huge effort this season and we are thrilled with the progress made. This win was a just reward for their dedication.”

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