Team Montenotte Hotel 62 Killester 36: Women’s National Cup final: GLANMIRE retained the Women’s National Cup following a comfortable win over Killester at the National Arena on Saturday.
In one of the most disappointing finals at headquarters for many years, the Cork side did enough late in the second-half to ensure they retained their crown with ease.
The Cork girls were not at their best but they didn’t have to be as Killester struggled in many departments. The game opened up with a brace of Gráinne Dwyer free throws and she was the one player that showed grit and determination for her side and again epitomised why she is so highly regarded in Irish basketball.
Gráinne, a former Wildcat, has been playing in the Premier league for 10 years and when the going gets tough she is the one player that steps up to the mark.
“It wasn’t pretty basketball but sometimes you have to find a way to win ugly and this evening we were almost dragged into a dogfight,” Gráinne said.
Killester came into the final as underdogs but they had signed what they thought were two Americans that would help them win this championship. In Robin Murphy, a former division one college player from Iowa, they had a player that was expected to light up basketball headquarters.
The one problem Murphy encountered in her first Irish cup final was a certain Gráinne Dwyer guarding her. Just like her sister Niamh, the better quality of player on court the greater the challenge it becomes to completely shut down their opponent.
Murphy played 32 minutes but could only contribute nine points due to the sheer doggedness of Gráinne Dwyer. As the quarter unfolded, Montenotte looked to be taking control of this drab encounter but a late basket from Murphy ensured the deficit was reduced to three points 13-10. The Cork side needed to improve in the offence court but as coach Mark Scannell explained sometimes cup finals are equivalent to chess games.
“We weren’t firing on the scoring front and I knew with our defence so good it was only a matter of time before we would open them up,” Scannell said.
In the second period the basketball continued to be at a low standard, as the champions — despite defending well — were not making it count on offence.
Leading by the minimum at the break (25-24), Coach Scannell explained: “Marie Breen hadn’t a good first-half but suddenly she came good and we looked a force again and the third quarter was the winning of the game for us,” added Scannell.
Surprisingly it took Montenotte up to the 26th minute to break Killester’s heart as they held the Dublin side to eight points in a game-breaking period.
The Dwyer sisters and Breen found a way to score as Killester wilted under the intense pressure that saw Montenotte lead 45-32 entering the final quarter.
“Once we got ahead of them they fell away and I must say when nothing was happening Gráinne Dwyer came up with crucial baskets that finally ended any chance of us losing.”
Trailing by 13 points one would have expected Killester to put up a greater fight, but it got worse for them as all they could amass coming down the stretch was a paltry four points.
Many of the capacity attendance were baffled why the Killester coach made a block substitution of five players on two occasions.
Looking at the body language of Killester’s players the will to win simply wasn’t there and all they did coming down the stretch was go through the motions.
As the huge band of Montenotte fans sang in the stands the sound of the final buzzer was greeted with elation as the champions had retained their title. It certainly wasn’t a classic but for coach Scannell that won’t matter as they retained their title without having an American in their squad.
Such is strength of the Glanmire underage progamme.
Scorers for Team Montenotte: G Dwyer 20 N Dwyer 11, M Breen 8
Scorers for Killester: R Murphy 9, A Maguire 9, O Lee 4.
Referees: David Caballe (Athlone), Declan Dunne (Dublin), Emma Perry (Dublin).
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