Killester end 15-year wait for Cup with victory over Brunell

Karl Kilbride wanted the boards to open up and the ground to swallow him this time four years ago as the last seconds of the National Cup decider faded towards an inevitable and, for his Killester side, devastating end.

Killester end 15-year wait for Cup with victory over Brunell

[team1]Singleton Supervalu Brunell[/team1][score1]59[/score1][team2]Pyrobel Killester[/team2][score2]82[/score2][/score]

Karl Kilbride wanted the boards to open up and the ground to swallow him this time four years ago as the last seconds of the National Cup decider faded towards an inevitable and, for his Killester side, devastating end.

Glanmire were 30 points to the good but the Killester fans on the bleachers opposite the head coach were still clearing their lungs, their support undiluted by the sour turn of events against a side at the apex of their climb to the top of the game.

So, this? A 23-point win and first cup win for the club in 15 years? Yeah, this felt good.

“It was great,” he admitted after an ultimately comfortable victory over Brunell, a side they'd beaten on the back of two close league encounters earlier this season.

“With a minute to go here and being 20 up and being able to to look over at them cheering again... Unbelievable.

“I'm so very proud of the girls for how hard they worked and how well they executed. We knew that if we stayed together and stayed tuned in at the defensive end that it would lead to us scoring with transition and we did that.”

The consistently impressive and effective Christa Reed ended the evening with the MVP award for her 23 points and eight rebounds. It was a close-run thing with her fellow America Addella Randle El who signed for 20 and nine respectively.

They had plenty of support besides with Rebecca Nagle accounting for a dozen points, and Killester's bench chipping in with another 20. By contrast, Brunell got just four points off the bench and their shot percentages were just far too low.

Kilbride had spoken about how this run has finally wiped the 2016 slate clean with a cup run that has seen them account for three Cork clubs, Fr Mathews, Glanmire and now Brunell. Not just him but Rebecca Nagle, Michelle Clarke and Aisling McCan, three other survivors from that painful night.

For Brunell this was groundhog day given their 25-point loss to Liffey Celtics in the final 12 months ago. Head coach Tim O'Halloran, whose side had shocked league leaders DCU Mercy in the last four, was understandably crestfallen.

“Just very, very disappointed,” he explained after tossing his runners-up medal into the kit bag on the floor. “We fell behind early on by ten points and made a great comeback to go in at half-time leading by one.

“We scored six points in the third quarter and that was the difference. You're trying to come back then and it's tough. They are a good team and they had a good game plan. Look, my girls done unbelievably well to get here and I'm so proud of them.”

He's right in that. Brunell lost eight of the panel that played this game in 2019 during the off-season. They have done extraordinarily well to rebuild and get this far but they were held back on the big day by injuries to two key players, guard Danielle O'Leary and teenage centre Katie Walsh.

Walsh, as expected, didn't feature at all after suffering a bad finger injury in the semi-final win but O'Leary fought through the pain of her ankle problem to clock over 16 minutes in the red singlet. It was a valiant but ultimately unrewarded effort.

Far play to O'Halloran, he wasn't in a mood to lean on those setbacks as a crutch.

“That's sport,” he insisted, “you just have to move on.”

Brunell actually clicked into a slick groove off the buzzer. Treyanna Clay and Greta Tamasanskaite landed field goals to establish a 5-0 bridgehead but Killester had fallen 20 points behind Glanmire in the semi-final so they were never likely to be fazed by that.

The Dublin side was ahead come the midway point of the first quarter with a quartet of threes from a number of sources combining with some effective drives into the paint by Randle El and they had a ten-point advantage when the period ended.

Brunell mirrored their opening to the game when the second kicked in but managed to maintain it this time. O'Leary came on to make her first appearance at this point and two free throws from Aryn McClure right before the pause handed them a 38-37 lead at the half.

Game on, you thought.

O'Halloran's side had bared their teeth in that period, claiming seven points from turnovers alone and leaving their opponents empty-handed from the same source. McClure, their American out of Quinnipiac, already had eleven rebounds to her name.

“At half-time we were a bit annoyed,” said Kilbride. “We had given up a bunch of offensive rebounds, more so we kept putting them to the free-throw line, and we talked about being early in our rotations so that we be able to box out. Our rotations were slow and they were able to get offensive rebounds.” Whatever it was they said at that point it worked.

Brunell fell away in the third. How could they not when managing to score just half-a-dozen points? Killester managed 23 in the same period, ending it 16 points to the good and with their bench beginning to add their shoulders to the wheel for good measure.

Something dramatic needed to happen now, at both ends of the court, for Brunell to turn it around. They did manage to kickstart their offence again at the start of the fourth but Killester were doing too much damage at the other end to make that an issue.

Top scorers for Killester: Cristina Reed (23), Adella Randle El (20), Rebecca Nagle (12).

Top scorers for Brunell: Aryn McClure and Treyanna Clay (both 16), Greta Tamasanskaite (11).

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