Clonaslee College celebrated a narrow victory over Presentation Secondary School in the nail biting U19 C Girls All Ireland Schools League Final on a slender 38-37 scoreline.
Clonaslee College’s captain Niamh O’Donovan was awarded the ‘MVP’ of the game after she lead her team to a victorious win by contributing a tally of 24 points.
The beginning of the game saw both teams struggle to compete with the high tempo pace they had set for themselves and it wasn’t until Clonaslee were fouled and awarded two free throws that Meaghan Dunne hit one to put her team ahead. Clonaslee continued to attack the basket and captain O’Donovan found her rhythm early in the quarter to settle her side.
It was Presentation’s Jennifer Fitzgerald who responded with a big three pointer to keep her teams’ hopes alive as the quarter finished 8 - 3 to Clonaslee.
Coming into the second quarter it was obvious to the crowd that tensions were high as the pressure to score mounted. Both teams were finding it increasingly difficult to get points on the board as they each faced tough defense.
However, it was offensive breaks from Presentation’s Aoife Coffey that kept them on the scoreboard but much to their dismay O’Donovan continued to chip away and maintain her teams lead at 13 - 6.
With such a low scoring first half not one person in the Arena expected the intense second half that was to come. Presentation’s Fitzgerald came off the bench with immense energy hitting yet another long three point shot to inspire her teammates to dig deep and keep the faith.
However, as the energy and excitement continued to build the increasing temptation to foul did also. Presentation sent a stream of Clonaslee’s players to the free throw line and they were in turn punished for their mistakes as Clonaslee converted these opportunities to continue their lead.
Heading into the last quarter 6 points down Presentation pushed it up another gear with Fitzgerald shattering the Laois defense and slamming home another two vital three pointers for her team. Her intensity reflected through the team with Annie Sheehan and Coffey contributing to their teams comeback.
With three minutes left on the clock the game was basket for basket but Presentation were slowly creeping closer and closer ahead as their intense defense stopped Clonaslee from pulling away.
As the clock ran down more and more fouls were added to the score board, causing players to leave the game, Clonaslee lost Kate Conroy while Presentation’s Sheehan, Coffey and Grainne Devane had to take a seat and watch the remainder of the game from the bench.
Coming down the stretch both teams played exceptionally clever basketball and when Clonaslee’s captain O’Donovon was fouled and made both free throws Presentation’s Fitzgerald responded by hitting her sixth three pointer of the game.
Just when it looked as though the Cork team may have pipped Clonaslee to the post, as they were one point up with 30 seconds left Clonaslee’s Michelle Hogan hit the game winning shot to secure the win in this nail biting All Ireland Final.
Clonaslee College (Laois) 38 (13) (Niamh O’Donovan 24, Michelle Hogan 7, Kate Conroy 4) Presentation Secondary School (Miltown) 37 (6) (Jennifer Fitzgerald 19, Aoife Coffey 5, Annie Sheehan & Sara Griffin 4)
MVP; Niamh O’Donovan (Clonaslee College)