UL Eagles completed the double in Women’s SuperLeague when they had a hard-earned win over Team Montenotte in the league decider at the National Basketball Arena last night.
The Limerick side were pushed all the way by their opponents who scrapped and hustled their way through this final
Valerie O’Driscoll gave the Cork side a good start with a deft jumper but Michelle Fahy replied immediately with a beautiful drive to the hoop.
It was obvious Montenotte were intent on playing solid defence as their forced their Limerick opponents into making unforced errors, although the teams were level at six points apiece in the fourth minute.
Gradually UL began gaining control and when Rachael Clancy shot a monstrous three-pointer in the fifth minute, the Shannonsiders led for the first time, 11-8.
Montenotte will wonder how they left so many easy scoring opportunities go a begging in the opening eight minutes, as UL finished with a flourish to lead 19-12 entering the second quarter.
The errors continued for Montenotte on the restart but Claire Rockall reduced the deficit to four points with a free throw in the 12th minute.
Amanda O’Regan gave Montenotte a ray of hope in the 15th minute with a three-pointer but both sides reverted to choosing silly shooting options.
The Cork side, without excelling stayed with their opponents and UL despite their dominance, only commanded a five-point lead with two minutes left to the break.
Credit to the Cork side, they battled to the half-time buzzer and a late Aine McKenna basket cut the deficit further, as they trailed 33-30. Aoife McDermott hit consecutive baskets to increase the UL lead before Rockall went coast to coast and replied in style for Montenotte.
In the 24th minute Montenotte coach Cormac O’Donoghue decided a timeout was necessary after a poor opening phase that saw his team trail 39-32.
The standard of basketball in this period fell and with three minutes remaining, UL commanded an eight-point lead.
Amanda O’Regan brought life to Montenotte’s loyal supporters with a monstrous three-pointer that reduced the deficit to 46-43, entering the final quarter.
Coming down the stretch, UL kept their noses in front and with just 4.49 remaining, they had stretched their lead to nine points.
Despite their best efforts, Montenotte failed to peg back their opponents as Eagles retained their title in style.
After the game, UL Eagles coach James Weldon praised his troops in the manner they completed the season, that saw them win their 35th consecutive game, that stems back to December 2010.
“To be fair, Montenotte did a great job shutting down our various threats and credit must go to their coach, Cormac O’Donoghue for doing his homework on us,” Weldon said.
“I am very proud of my team and this evening is about enjoying our magnificent achievement.”
Naturally the mood in the Team Montenotte camp afterwards was disappointment although their coach found time to praise his gallant players.
“We battled hard and with a bit of luck could have won but in the last quarter ran out of steam against an excellent side,” said O’Donoghue.
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