Portlaoise Panthers travelled to Kerry last weekend to face current league leaders Tralee Imperials. This game was always going to be a tough task for the Portlaoise girls with Tralee undefeated as of yet both home and away.
LADIES NATIONAL LEAGUE
Tralee Imperials 46
Portlaoise Panthers 24
A terrible offensive second half handed the game to the hosts as Portlaoise failed to break down the Tralee defence chance after chance. They can take great heart in the fact that their defence was brilliant throughout managing to keep Tralee to just forty-six points.
The first quarter started at a very lively pace with both sides repeatedly turning over possession, neither sides settling into the game early on. Defence was turning out to be the key part of both sides game with Tralee opting for an extremely tight man-to –man, with Panthers forcing the outside shots in a tight zone defence.
The first quarter remained tight throughout with Maeve O’Sullivan hitting a massive buzzer three pointer to put a single score between the sides by the end of the first.
The second quarter was much the same as the first with both sides again finding it extremely difficult to convert in offence. Time after time the players found themselves using up the 24 seconds given per offence which often forced the girls into bad options at the offensive end. Luckily for Portlaoise they owned their own board with great boxing out by Karen O’Sullivan, Holli Dunne and Tracy Falllon which was reflected in the low scoring game but a lapse in concentration just before the buzzer resulted in a Tralee score, giving them a five point lead at the break.
The third quarter was disappointing for the Panthers ladies as the pressure of the Tralee defence was too much to handle. Imperials harassed every player, not giving them an inch to make a move. The girls struggled to keep the scoreboard ticking over while Tralee extended their lead after some great passing play inside from the impressive Sinead Mackessy and Maeve Barry. Tralee extended their lead out to twelve points at the end of the quarter which still left the chance of a comeback in the Portlaoise player’s minds.
Unfortunately the comeback didn’t materialise and Portlaoise once again struggled to create the opportunities to close the gap.
The girls never gave up throughout and this showed in their defensive play, keeping Tralee to their lowest game total of the season to date. It was really frustrating for the girls all day in offence and they tried time after time to break down the home defence.
The score didn’t reflect the effort of all eleven Portlaoise players and as the season develops they will learn from each game experience and rectify the issues as they progress. The girls must quickly bounce back as they take on bottom of the table University of Limerick in a must win game on Saturday as they look to keep their play-off hopes alive.
Portlaoise Panthers: Megan Dunne, Holli Dunne, Catherine O’Sullivan, Maeve O’Sullivan, Deirdre Tomlinson, Mary Callanan, Karen O’Sullivan, Tracy Fallon, Aoife Donoghue, Sinead Melia, Sharon Melia, Grainne Tomlinson.