Portlaoise ladies all set for the big time

Portlaoise Panthers’ Basketball Club have entered the Women’s National League Division 1 competition this year. The Ladies team have been very successful in the last few years at Midland League level, winning both league and top four competitions.

Portlaoise Panthers’ Basketball Club have entered the Women’s National League Division 1 competition this year. The Ladies team have been very successful in the last few years at Midland League level, winning both league and top four competitions.

The girls along with their coach Joe Keenan have taken the decision to go to the next level but not without the help of a structured link system. This allows teams from clubs within the Midland region to put forward players to join the Panthers ladies in the National League campaign. Players from Portlaoise, Ballyroan, Athlone and Kestrels are joining forces to take on the likes of Donegal, NUI Galway, Castleisland, Tralee, UL and Drimnagh.

The Panthers team played a pre-season tournament in Coláiste Iosagáin, Dublin last weekend 15th and 16th September. Meteors Basketball Club hosted the tournament and the Panthers took on a very strong Oblate Dynamos team in their first pool game. The girls fought hard against the aggressive Dynamos and only trailed by eight points at half time.

However, Oblate Dyamos wealth of talent and experience proved too strong in the second half. Next up at 5.30pm on Saturday evening was the Panthers midland league rivals, Longford Falcons. This game was once again another battle but the Panthers started to gel a little better than their first pool game and they finished the game with a comprehensive win.

Sunday morning brought another big challenge for Joe and his new team. This time Firhouse were the opposing team and from games in previous tournaments, Panthers knew the type of challenge that lay ahead. Firhouse were a very well organised team with excellent players and their defence for the first three quarters proved very difficult to break down. Panthers continued to played hard and battle and managed to pull away to a 14 point lead that Firhouse failed to recover from.

Having won two out of their three matches, Panthers earned their place in the semi-finals but unfortunately were only given a 20 minute turnaround time before they had to face an extremely talented Meteors team. Meteors had a combination of Superleague, National League and underage players and their speed, agility and skill gave the Panthers their toughest game of the weekend. The Meteors girls played their way into the finals of the competition being the odds on favourites to win. Overall it was a learning experience for the team and gives them all a good start to the season.

The Portlaoise Panthers Basketball Club are holding a table quiz in Silvers Bar on Friday night at 8pm. Table of four €40. Your supPort would be greatly appreciated. The first home fixture is Portlaoise Panthers vs NUI Galway in St.Mary’s Hall on Saturday the 6th of October at 7.30pm.

Team: Catherine O’Sullivan, Maeve O’Sullivan, Deirdre Tomlinson, Gráinne Tomlinson, Sharon Melia, Sinéad Melia, Pamela O’Neill, Mary Callanan, Karen O’Sullivan, Tracey Fallon, Megan Dunne, Holli Dunne, Edel Larkin, Aoife Donoghue.