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Basketball: Thrilling win for Portlaoise Ladies

The Portlaoise Ladies senior team, who welcomed Castleisland to St MAry's Hall in the National League over the weekend

The Portlaoise Ladies senior team, who welcomed Castleisland to St MAry's Hall in the National League over the weekend

Saturday night in St Mary’s Hall Portlaoise the scene was set for a thrilling encounter between the Ladies Division 1 National League Portlaoise Panthers against Castleisland’s St Mary’s Tom McCarthy’s.

Ladies Division 1 National League

Portlaoise Panthers 74

Castleisland 62

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Saturday night in St Mary’s Hall Portlaoise the scene was set for a thrilling encounter between the Ladies Division 1 National League Portlaoise Panthers against Castleisland’s St Mary’s Tom McCarthy’s.

This was the second home game of the season for the Panthers and they knew from past encounters and the quality of Castleisland teams throughout the years that they were going to have a major challenge on their hands.

They began the game with Catherine O’Sullivan, Maeve O’Sullivan, Sharon Melia, Holli Dunne and Tracey Fallon and set up a zone defence to counteract a strong inside game. Tracey Fallon got the first scores on the board as she got fouled going to the basket. She finished the strong drive and scored the resulting free throw. Maeve O’Sullivan followed this up with another strong drive which again resulted in two free throws which she calmly put away.

Catherine O’Sullivan scored a couple of outside shots and got to the free throw line twice in the quarter. A lot of strong defensive work including some great rebounding by Holli Dunne and Sharon Melia got Portlaoise off to a great start but some punishing outside shooting by Miriam Leane, Philomena O’ Connor and Eabhnait Scanlon kept Castleisland in touch. The score at the end of the quarter was Portlaoise 20 Castleisland 17.

Mary Callanan stepped into the fray at the end of the first quarter and controlled the game in the point guard position. She was asked to keep up the tempo of the game by coach Joe Keenan at the break and stepped up by driving to the basket and scoring both free throw shots that resulted from being fouled. Deirdre Tomlinson had an immense second quarter when she was introduced and by posting up her player on the high post position, she took her to the basket on numerous occasions to great effect.

She scored seven points in the quarter and added to the Castleisland team fouls with her aggressive play. Megan Dunne took on the role of point guard and continued to push the play on the offensive end and steals on the defense and fast break play in the second quarter quickened the pace of the game and Aoife Donoghue and Sinéad Melia added to the Portlaoise tally. Portlaoise’s boxing out skills left a lot to be desired and the alteration in their offensive play proved very successful for them and they manage to reel in the deficit and the half time score finished 35-35.

The crowd in St.Mary’s awaited a very exciting second half with everything still to play for. Tracey Fallon stepped on court again at the beginning of the third quarter and started as she meant to go on. She caught some unbelievable rebounds and finished some great moves with 6 points in the third quarter alone. Maeve O’Sullivan and Sinéad Melia worked tirelessly on defense and both finished some flowing fast break moves. The adjustments in the zone defense stemmed the flow of the Castleisland outside shooting. Mary Callanan combined with Catherine O’Sullivan late on in the quarter and scored 10 points between them to finish the quarter, Panthers 53 - Castleisland 46.

In the final quarter Philomena O’Connor got off to a lightning start for Castleisland. She scored eight points in a row to bring the score to within five points of Portlaoise and put some late pressure on the home team. Holli Dunne had an outstanding game. At 16 years of age she stepped up to the National League level and into a first five position without hesitation. She gave a fantastic display and is definitely one to watch for the future. With her aggressive defensive play Panthers stepped up another level as the quarter drew to a close and with a final push and some great play by the Portlaoise girls, they held firm and won the game by a final scoreline of 74 points to 62.

 

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