Portlaoise Panthers kept their winning start to the season going with a hard fought victory over Division 1 newcomers I.T. Carlow on Wednesday night.
Panthers travelled with a full strength squad and worked tirelessly throughout to come out with a twelve point win. This win paved the way for the Portlaoise men to try double up and take a big scalp in the form of the I.T. Carlow clubmen.
The first quarter was played at a frantic pace with both sides trying to get the upper hand of the early exchanges. Both teams traded scores throughout the quarter with neither side able to push out any lead early on.
IT Carlow was starting to dominate proceedings inside the arc on offence with Aisling Hayden and Kristina Delahunt scoring thirteen points between them. In reply Portlaoise got into their stride with quick movement of the ball leading to scores inside by Sharon Melia and creating space outside for Sinead Melia and Maeve O’Sullivan to drain three pointers.
Both teams were well matched and went in all square after the first quarter.
The start of the second quarter followed the same pattern with both sides looking to play to their strengths. Delahunt was again causing all the damage inside scoring another eleven points to keep her sides tally ticking over. Indiscipline from the home team allowed Portlaoise to keep the scoreboard ticking over as Jackie Coleman and Deirdre Tomlinson made their free throws count.
The experience of the Portlaoise women came to the fore as they began to find the gaps in the Carlow defence with patient build-up play resulting in some fine scores from both Catherine and Maeve O’Sullivan. Panthers outscored their opponents by eleven points taking a 44-33 lead at half time.
The third quarter was again another tight affair with both sides coming to terms with each others offensive plays. I.T. Carlow again looked to their big two, Hayden and Delahunt to close the gap and yet again they scored nineteen points between them.
But again Portlaoise have the players to step up and score when needed with Catherine O’Sullivan giving an exhibition of outside shooting scoring three from three beyond the arc. This gave her side an eight point lead going into the last quarter.
Panthers experience shone through in the final ten minutes as they tightened up in defence and used the ball well in offence. The girls used the clock to their advantage while also taking full advantage from the line after some indiscipline inside from I.T. Carlow.
Free throws from Sinead Melia and Maeve O’Sullivan saw their team over the line against a very young Carlow side.
Portlaoise Panters maintained their winning ways with their fourth consecutive win in this years Midland League on Sunday night. Their opponents were the ever improving Berkeley who dominated their own local Kilkenny League for numerous years and whose arrival into the Midland League adds great variety.
Portlaoise got off to a steady start thanks to some great scores from Catherine O’Sullivan and Sharon Melia, with Aine Sheehy keeping Berkeley in touch.
The second quarter was a much tighter affair with the Kilkenny side coming out on top, applying lots of pressure on the Portlaoise defence and taking advantage in the home side’s lapse in concentration. There were some wonderful passages of play by the Panthers in the third quarter with great link ups between Maeve O’Sullivan, Sinead Melia and Jackie Coleman to push out the score again in favour of the home side. In the final quarter, Kilkenny’s Sheila Sheehy continued her blistering shooting spree aided by her sister Fiona to out score the Panthers with Portlaoise’s Shauna Burke keeping the home side’s nose in front. The final score read 67 - 60 in favour of Portlaoise with the Panthers in top position going into the new year.
Portlaoise Panthers Team: Maeve O’Sullivan, Catherine O’Sullivan, Grainne Tomlinson, Deirdre Tomlinson, Sharon Melia, Sinead Melia, Jackie Coleman, Trish Fogarty, Aine Fitzpatrick, Shauna Burke, Sarah Phelan. Coach: Peter O’Sullivan.