Colaiste Iosagain Portarlington enjoyed a great day in University of Limerick recently.
Their first and second year girls basketball teams had reached the All-Ireland semi-finals in their perspective codes. First up was the first year semi-final against Kenmare which proved to be their toughest test this season. Between nerves and the early start the Port girls were slow out of the blocks.
At the end of the first quarter Kenmare were ahead by three points, but the second and third quarters were fiercely contested. Nicole Havill started to dominate under the boards and she set up lots of fast breaks that Naomi Lutteral converted. Going into the last quarter Iosagain implemented a very tight defence that created many fast breaks.
Eva Galvin and Fiona Dempsey were drawing fouls and converting free-throws, while Zoe Dunphy, Alannah Keogh and Leah Cooney stuck to their defensive roles tenaciously to help Port win by eight.
The final was against Loreto Navan. Iosagain settled into their game plan early on, constantly finding holes in the Navan defence with players like Kirsten Maher and Sarah Jane Cunningham growing more and more in stature.
Going into the final quarter their defensive game was outstanding and Navan scored just eight points in the whole game. As the final buzzer went an outpouring of emotions erupted as an All-Ireland girls title was coming back to Colaiste Iosagain for the first time in 14 years.
Next up was the second year girls. In the semi-final their opposition was Kinsale and from the start it was clear this was going to go down to the wire.
Iosagain went seven points down in the first few minutes but a good outside shot from Eva Galvin and a great steal from Kimberly Webster, which she scored from, had one point between the teams at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter Iosagain scored a few quick baskets and they seemed to be really finding their rhythm thanks to Orla Mullally and Katelynn Weldon.
Kinsale continued to chip away at the ten point lead and with two minutes to go they went ahead for the first time. Instead of throwing in the towel Port dug deep with seconds left on the clock Eva Galvin scored a basket that forced the game into overtime.
Both teams played a full court press which resulted in a lot of fouling, and the difference in the end was Kinsale’s accuracy from the free-throw line.
At the final buzzer the girls were bitterly disappointed but they can hold their heads up high to have reached that stage of the competition but also to have played in what was the game of the day for its intensity and excitement.