The fairytale continues – Ireland U18 Women book their spot in FIBA U18 European Championship final
Ireland Under 18 women dared to dream at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght on Saturday evening and it certainly paid off as they drove home to a historic and memorable 68-57 point win against Poland in the semi-final of the FIBA U18 Women’s European Championship Division B.
Starring for Ireland were Monasterevin's Clare Melia (18 points) and Leixlip's Sorcha Tiernan (5).
The promised land of Division A basketball is now on the cards for the team in 2018 - as they have officially been promoted for next year’s championships - as too is a coveted spot in Sunday night’s final at 8.30pm in Tallaght.
This squad now have the unique honour of not only being the first Irish basketball team to reach a European Championship final, but to also play Division A basketball and, for Head Coach, Tommy O’Mahony, the smile on his face couldn’t get any bigger.
“We lacked a bit of composure at times, we didn’t do what we were supposed to do on things, but we got them refocused in the second quarter and did a lot better job. I think they’re mature beyond their years out there and it’s a night that will live on in the memory for a long time.”
Poland got the better of the opening exchanges with a 5-0 scoring run to lead, 15-9 at the end of the first quarter.
Ireland regained the lead two minutes into the second quarter, after a fantastic scoring run was finished off by Courtyard Liffey Celtics Leixlip's Sorcha Tiernan’s three pointer, which forced the Polish to call a timeout and regroup. Itreland led 28-23 at halftime.
There was a deafening roar when Dayna Finn weaved her way through the Polish defence and put Ireland ten points up as the third quarter ticked by, and both Monasterevin's Claire Melia (Portlaoise Panthers) and Rachel Huijsdens made huge threes to hold on to a two-point lead going into the last. Louise Scannell came off the bench to make two huge scores in the fourth and though Poland matched them score for score, they began to have troubles of their own when their top scorer Julia Nielacna was fouled out. In the end, it was destined to be Ireland’s day as they booked their place in the European Championship final on a scoreline of 68-57.
This evening (Sunday) at 8.30, they will play German in the final in the National Basketball Arena, Tallaght
Ireland ; Margaret Byrne, *Dayna Finn (17), Annaliese Murphy (2), Sorcha Tiernan (5), *Rachel Huijsdens (11), Maeve Phelan (3), Ella McCloskey, *Louise Scannell (5), *Bronagh Power Cassidy (7), *Claire Melia (18), Maeve O’Seaghdha, Amy Murphy.
RESULT – FIBA U16 Men’s European Championship
Group Game 3
Ireland 98-56 Norway
IRELAND: Paul Kelly* (15), Nathan Moore (15), Ronan Cregan (2), David Lehane (5), CJ Fulton (13), Oisin Rice* (10), Daire Kennelly (6), Tiernan Howe* (11), Cian Daly (9), Sanmi Fajana* (2), Andrew O’Connor, Daniel Arimoro* (10)