Portlaoise down rivals Ballyroan in decider

This year’s division 1 Top 4 Competition was as an exciting affair as was anticipated with all four teams who participated over the weekend well deserved finalists.

This year’s division 1 Top 4 Competition was as an exciting affair as was anticipated with all four teams who participated over the weekend well deserved finalists.

Midlands Women’s Division 1 Top 4

The first semi-final saw league runners-up Ballyroan take on 3rd placed Longford in a hotly contested affair. These two teams have battled each other throughout the league and this match was one of the most exciting over the weekend. This match wasn’t decided until the last few seconds with the hosting club Ballyroan, clinching a place in the final by a single point.

The second semi-final saw league winners Portlaoise play Athlone in the first game of the day on Saturday morning. Athlone travelled with a depleted panel and battled hard throughout the game but Portlaoise were too strong and booked their place in the final on Sunday.

The scene was set for a brilliant final against two rival teams. This was the third time in as many years that the final has been contested between Portlaoise and Ballyroan with Portlaoise coming out on top in the two years previous. But no final is straight forward and both teams were determined to take the 2012 title.

The first quarter was a very close affair. Ballyroan started the quicker of the two teams with Lisa Clancy and Tracy Fallon clocking up some fine score in the first few minutes. Portlaoise replied through Deirdre Tomlinson and Catherine O’Sullivan to narrow the gap. After 10 minutes played, Ballyroan lead by 1 point, 13 points to 12.

The second quarter was played in the same vein as both teams battled to keep their noses ahead. Ballyroans’s Mary Callanan took her scores well but they were quickly cancelled out by Portlaoises MVP, Jackie Colemen, who punished Ballyroan under the boards. Jean McEvoy battled hard for her team throughout the game and added some vital scores for Ballyroan giving them a lead of 3 points at the half on a scoreline of 32-29.

The third quarter saw Portlaoise push ahead for the first time in the game. Great defensive play by Portlaoises Grainne McGlade allowed Maeve O Sullivan and Sharon Melia to make their mark in the game at this crucial time. Portlaoise continued to push the play down the court and take their scores at every opportunity. Player of the year Catherine O’Sullivan scored inside and outside the arc to allow Portlaoise to take a four point lead into the final 10 minutes.

Portlaoise went into top gear in the last quarter and continued to apply pressure on the Ballyroan defence. Sinead Melia punished Ballyroan from the free throw line throughout the quarter and Ballyroan found it too hard to claw themselves back into the game. Portlaoise took the title on a scoreline of 71-52.

Portlaoise: Sinead Melia, Sharon Melia, Catherine O’Sullivan, Maeve O Sullivan, Deirdre Tomlinson, Grainne Tomlinson, Jackie Coleman, Eimear Conroy, Grainne McGlade and Michelle Hart. Coach: Joe Keenan

Ballyroan: Jean McEvoy, Mary Callanan, Tracy Fallon, Aoife O Malley, Lisa Clancy, Karen O Sullivan, Claire Foyle, Attracta Brophy, Leanne Fallon, Laura Fallon, Ann Marie Troy and Kathrina Mulhare. Coach: Niall Maher

See this week’s Leinster Express (May 9) for extensive photographic coverage from the men’s and women’s basketball finals. On sale now