The highly anticipated encounter of Portlaoise Panthers v Carlow IT didn’t fail to deliver in a tight and fast paced game in Carlow IT with Panthers making a great comeback to take the spoils.
Carlow started well with a three point shot from R. Richardson followed quickly by two free throws by Wogan.
A brave drive through the key by the ever fearless Maeve O’Sullivan got Panthers off the mark and Jackie Costello’s four free throws saw the first quarter end in a low scoring affair, seven points a piece as both teams got to grips with their opponents.
The second quarter was a much faster affair with Carlow’s Delahunt and Hayden teaming up to contribute over 20 points between them in a whirlwind of drives, shots and some excellent offensive and defensive rebounds.
They forged ahead to build up a thirteen point lead and the signs pointed to a break away quarter for the IT team. But Panthers aren’t four time champions for nothing and dug deep to drag themselves back into the quarter.
They changed their defense to try counteract the duo and had some success with Maeve O Sullivan penetrating with Jackie Costello and Sharon Melia collecting the clever dish offs. With a flourish of scores from Panthers, the half time score read 33-30 in favour of Carlow.
The game resumed at half time as it had finished, with some excellent skill and determination displayed by both teams. It was a tetchy third quarter, neither teams pulling too far away from each other as the lead swapped hands on many occasions.
Catherine O’Sullivan fed some clever passes into the always dangerous Sinead Melia and Sharon Regan who tucked away much needed scores. Carlow responded with a great three pointer from Lorraine McCormack and at the end of the quarter it was back to a two point game.
As the game resumed Panthers started the brighter and as they strung some scores together, the break away both teams were looking for went their way. Deirdre Tomlinson and the hard working O’Sullivans broke the deadlock and were never going to be caught.
Although Carlow rallied hard, Panthers weren’t letting go of their lead and tacked on great scores through a brace of fast breaks. An exciting match, that displayed lots of great skills ended on a score line of 62-50 to Panthers as they vie for their 5th consecutive title. Tops scorers for Portlaoise was Maeve O Sullivan with 22 points and for Carlow IT, Ashling Hayden on 16 points.