Portlaoise Panthers continued their impressive home run in the National League on Saturday night disposing of University of Limerick to keep their play-off hopes alive in their first season back at this level.
LADIES NATIONAL LEAGUE
Portlaoise Panthers 65
The home side led from start to finish in what was an all-round great team performance which leaves them second in the league behind unbeaten Tralee Imperials.
The Panthers ladies got off to an excellent start with Sharon Melia controlling proceedings in defence while quick ball movement in offence led to great open opportunities which were punished by Sinead Melia and Catherine O’Sullivan. Sinead Melia was clinical in the first quarter hitting her first three attempts from range. Portlaoise’s major threat from the outside forced Limerick into pushing right out on the guards leaving space inside for Tracey Fallon to attack the heart of the defence. Catherine O’Sullivan finished the quarter off with a big three pointer to give Panthers a deserved ten point lead after the opening ten minutes.
The second quarter saw Portlaoise step up their intensity once again with the introduction of Holli Dunne and Mary Callanan. Controlled offences resulted in players taking the right options and Dunne and Karen O’Sullivan were causing all sorts of problems inside in offence while cleaning up under the boards on the defensive end. University of Limerick were staying in the game through their accuracy from the free throw line as indiscipline from the Portlaoise ladies saw them give up six points from the line alone in the quarter. Portlaoise finished the quarter strongly and pushed their lead out to fourteen points thanks to great drives from Deirdre Tomlinson and Mary Callanan.
The third quarter is always seen as a major quarter in terms of making or breaking a game and the home side were excellent throughout on both ends of the floor. Clinical shooting after excellently worked offences from O’Sullivan sisters Maeve and Catherine extended their team’s advantage out to over twenty points. At the other end of the floor the defence stood strong with pressure on every pass from Megan Dunne on the top of the key making it difficult for Limerick to settle into any offence. Again Portlaoise held their opponents to just eight points while extending their lead to twenty two points with Tracey Fallon causing all sorts of problems throughout.
The final quarter was a formality for the home side who continued to dominate in defence while working through their plays effectively in offence. Their strength in depth in the squad gives Portlaoise the luxury of rotating throughout the game and their energy was apparent as they held Limerick to just forty two points due to their intensity and quickness. Catherine O’Sullivan stepped up in the final quarter to push her personal tally out to eighteen points but it was the overall team display that was the biggest positive to take from this game. They now look forward to making it four home wins by overturning their opening away loss to Donegal Town on Saturday 15th December in St.Marys Hall.
Portlaoise Panthers Team: Megan Dunne, Maeve O’Sullivan, Mary Callanan, Deirdre Tomlinson, Tracey Fallon, Sinead Melia, Holli Dunne, Catherine O’Sullivan, Karen O’Sullivan, Sharon Melia, Grainne Tomlinson. Coaches: Nacola Nerney & Peter O’Sullivan.