The postponement of reigning champions, Glanmire’s National Cup quarter-final, against Killester, yesterday, was one of the big talking points of a hectic cup and league weekend.
The Glanmire club was informed during the week that their new American player, Adily Martucci, would not be eligible for yesterday’s game, a claim the cup champions vigorously contest and will challenge at a hearing of Basketball Ireland’s National Appeals committee this week.
The Women’s National League committee decided Martucci couldn’t play, due to being a direct replacement for the American being released. Martucci and her compatriot, Alexis Eckles, were part of the Glanmire side that defeated Singleton’s Supervalu Brunell last week, but were not on the court together — though the rule states they were entitled to be.
The background involved Basketball Ireland moves a few years ago to prevent teams ‘stacking up’ for the National Cup at this level. However, Glanmire sources say it is clear they signed one American and released another (Eckles has since been picked up by IT Carlow) last week. Glanmire are refusing to comment formally, but sources said the club intends to pursue the matter through its legal advisers.
Muddying the waters is an issue over a third Glanmire player’s eligibility for the league victory over Brunell last week. Katie Keating has Irish parents and an Irish passport, but is deemed as a Category 2 player, which classifies her as an American. The Cork club claim this problem is down to an administrative error by Basketball Ireland, when registering the player, but Glanmire face losing the league points to Brunell. The two cases are unrelated.
Meanwhile, on the court, Brunell booked their place in the last-four of the cup, when they overcame WIT Wildcats 72-68, in a pulsating quarter-final at the Parochial Hall.
The Cork side struggled to contain the power of Meaghan Donohue in the first-half and were fortunate to trail 41-38 at the break.
In the second-half, the Cork side, inspired by point guard, Danielle O’Leary, and American, Breana Bey, found key baskets and shut down the various Wildcats scoring threats.
For coach, Francis O’Sullivan, this game was all about the result. Reaching a cup semi-final is a huge boost for all concerned at the Brunell club.
“It wasn’t a clinical performance from us, but we had big performances from key players in our squad,” O’Sullivan said.
He believes his side will improve as the campaign matures, particularly American Breana Bey, who finished with a game-high of 26 points.
O’Sullivan added: “I think, when Brena reaches full fitness, she will be a problem for all her counterparts in this league.”
Naturally, the mood in the Wildcats camp was disappointment, but coach, Jillian Hayes, praised her players. “Playing without the injured Cathy Kavanagh didn’t help our cause, but the team gave their all and we wish Brunell all the best going forward in this championship.”
In another quarter-final, NUIG Mytics reached their first ever semi-final at this level, when they overcame Portlaoise Panthers 58-52 after extra-time. The sides were level, at 44 points each, in a low-scoring game, but with Aine McDonagh producing a game-high of 21 points, the westerners booked their semi-final slot, where they will face championship favourites, DCU Mercy.
“My head is ready to spin off, with overtime, at this stage!” laughed Mystics head coach, Mike Murray, after the game.
“That was a massive win for the girls. The league wasn’t going so well for us and we were losing close games. Then, all of a sudden, we close out two overtime games and we’re in the semi-finals of the cup, so this is huge and I think we deserve to be here. We’ve been working really hard.
“It takes a bit of guts to finish out games like today and our Irish players are really doing the business for us.”
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