Portlaoise Panthers National League team avenged their opening day away defeat to Donegal Town with an emphatic forty four point victory in St Marys Hall on Saturday night.
The game got off to a slow start with both teams trying to find their rhythm. Catherine O’Sullivan got the ball rolling with the first of her four from three point range.
Donegal Town replied with baskets from Elizabeth Duffy and Maeve Liston as Panthers zone defence seemed a little out of sorts. A change to man-to-man saw their intensity levels double causing turnovers which created the platform for the home sides’ fast break game with Sinead Melia the main beneficiary.
Melia accounted for nine of her sides’ first quarter total showing her array of moves both inside and outside the key. Quick movement of the ball in offence was causing problems for Donegal Town and baskets from Mary Callanan and Tracey Fallon gave the Panthers a ten point lead after the first quarter.
The second quarter saw the home side increase their lead early on with another big three pointer from Sinead Melia. This was followed up with a set of free throws from Catherine O’Sullivan. Portlaoise were starting to take control of the game as their defence was on top, keeping Donegal to just two baskets in the ten minute period with Sharon Melia and Karen O’Sullivan owning the boards.
The introduction of fresh legs during the quarter kept the momentum in the ladies favour as Deirdre Tomlinson repeatedly got out quickly on the break, accounting for the final five points of the half and giving the Panthers a twenty two point lead.
With such a lead at the break it was hard to see a way back for the visitors but they got the better of Portlaoise early in the third with baskets from Elizabeth Duffy and Kate Keaney. Panthers replied with a great three pointer from Megan Dunne and again capitalised on turnovers with quick breaks by Maeve O’Sullivan and Sinead Melia. Both teams went score for score for the rest of the quarter with a three from Catherine O’Sullivan and a lay-up from Tomlinson. Portlaoise had increased their lead out to twenty six points by the end of the third.
With the game all but out of reach of Donegal, the final ten minutes could be seen as a formality to those in attendance but point difference may end up to be a factor at the end of the regular season so it was important that the home side continued to pile on the pressure.
Two excellent three pointers from Catherine O’Sullivan followed by three baskets inside the key by Tracey Fallon added to the lead while excellent defence by Grainne O’Sullivan, Sharon Melia and Tracey Fallon kept Donegal to one basket for the final quarter. This was an excellent win for Portlaoise Panthers and sees them second in the league at the halfway stage of the season.
Portlaoise Panthers Team: Megan Dunne, Grainne O’Sullivan, Maeve O’Sullivan, Mary Callanan, Deirdre Tomlinson, Sinead Melia, Holli Dunne, Catherine O’Sullivan, Karen O’Sullivan, Sharon Melia.