Team Montenotte retained their Premier Women’s national league title following a 77-64 win over Cork rivals Singleton’s SuperValu Brunell.
Brunell looked sharp in the opening exchanges but with Niamh Dwyer inspiring the champions with some key baskets, Montenotte led 37-32 at the interval.
The biggest problem that Brunell encountered in the first half was their inability to dominate their own boards — their opponents registered 17 offensive rebounds.
When the champions increased the tempo in the third quarter, Brunell failed to live with the pace, as Montenotte outscored them 23-7. Coming down the stretch, Brunell did manage to reduce the deficit to 10 points but Montenotte stayed cool under pressure and ran out comfortable 13-point winners.
Naturally, the elation in the Montenotte camp was clear to see, as coach Mark Scannell spoke of his delight in leading them to the league and cup double.
Scannell said: “Credit to Brunell, they pushed us all the way but I thought when we needed inspiration, Niamh Dwyer was exceptional.
“To be fair, to win a league without an American player is a great achievement as some of the teams in this league had two in their squads. Brunell deserve a lot of credit in only their fourth year competing in the Premier League and I am sure this experience will make them determined to have another tilt at the title next season.”
The mood in the Brunell camp was one of disappointment as players and supporters wept openly. For Edel Thornton who is departing for the US on a basketball scholarship, it was a sad to end her Brunell career.
“We had them on the ropes, but for some strange reason we went into meltdown in the third quarter and never recovered,” Edel said.
“To leave players that I have soldiered with since I was a youngster is sad for me but I was determined to live my dream and hopefully the next four years will be the best experience of my life.”
For coach Kieran O’Leary, trying to come to grips with this defeat was also a hard pill to swallow.
“We had a great opportunity to dominate the first half but we basically failed to dominate our own boards and eventually it came back to haunt us,” O’Leary said.
“There is enough talent in my squad to make a another bid for the title next season but this Montenotte team are superb and they have set a serious standard for other teams to reach.”
Oblate Dynamos created a shock in the Women’s Division One league final when defeating Portlaoise Panthers 63-59, with American Jennifer Morabito chipping in with 15 points.
In the Women’s U18 Plate final, it took extra-time to separate Ulster Rockets and Moycullen, with the northerners running out 72-68 winners.
Neptune had little problems winning the Men’s U18 plate final when easily disposing of Portarlington side Kestrels 108-63. It took two periods of extra-time to decide the Men’s league cup final, with the honours going to DCU Saints 102-95.
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