THE Bantry junior ladies basketball team secured a historic championship title recently after they defeated Donoughmore by 13 points following their Division 1 championship decider at Neptune Stadium.
The West Cork ladies emerged victorious on a final scoreline of 43-30 following a brilliant final display. The team only re-entered the domestic campaign following an exile of over 20 years.
Team coach Niamh O’Neill was thrilled with the manner of their final win.
“It was a great win and achievement. We played Donoughmore the previous week at home in a league game and we scraped by only winning by just three points. We knew they didn’t travel with a full team and that we would be up against it on the day.
“We worked very hard in training in the week leading up to the final. We did loads of work on moves, plays and it stood to us. We played some incredible basketball in the final.”
The talented Bantry ladies basketball team led by a mere six points entering the final quarter against a very strong Donoughmore side who were gaining momentum as the game progressed. Bantry produced a stirring fourth quarter performance however.
“The ladies really supported each other on the court. They showed a great attitude from the very start. We settled into a slight lead early on in the game. Going into the final quarter we led by six points. It was still anyone’s game however.
“Emma Cotter threw up a three pointer and that gave us the buzz we needed to go on and seal victory. The girls had some great turnovers and we finished strongly. I am incredibly proud of how the ladies played and the support they all showed for each other.”
Ace basketballer Kathy McCarthy was awarded the MVP following a great display from the towering player who produced a masterful performance, both offensively and defensively. Niamh was delighted the dedicated basketball player was rewarded following an heroic performance.
“Kathy was awarded the MVP trophy. It was so so well deserved. She had a great presence on the court. Donoughmore could not handle her. She scored a very impressive 14 points. She blocked everything that came her way. She is a very dedicated player and her hard work paid off.”
A large crowd travelled from the picturesque West Cork town to support their basketball stars. They helped generate a great atmosphere.
“I was nervous going into the game and I think a lot of the girls were also. We had a nice crowd there on the day to support us and that was lovely. Mags Mulhall our team captain and point guard was very cool and composed.
“I think this helped the younger team members settle the nerves. She was very encouraging to her team-mates. Ali O’Connell, Emma Cotter and Myra O’Sullivan were the work horses. They covered some serious ground. Their fitness levels were very impressive. Kathy McCarthy, Jo O’Keeffe and Eithne Maddock dominated the boards.
“It was a very physical game for them and they were all excellent.”
Bantry junior ladies basketball team had previously won the Division 1 championship title on two occasions, with the last occasion occurring in 1998. Current team captain Mags Mulhall provided the link between both winning teams. Niamh paid tribute to the veteran team player who is still a key player on the team.
“She is so inspirational. Her three children are also members of the basketball club and I can only imagine in a few years time her two daughters Clodagh and Ella joining our team and playing alongside their very talented mother. She is a great player and club ambassador.”
Niamh played a key role in helping to revive the Bantry ladies basketball team. They initially formed as a social team, but due to demand from the players they resumed playing on a competitive basis.
“We couldn’t be happier with how the season is going. We have exceeded our expectations. We will also be competing in the top four competition which was our goal back in September. Our aim now is to top the league and get promoted. We train three times a week.
“We always have great numbers and everyone wants to play. I’ve never been stuck for numbers. Our members are so dedicated in their approach to training and games. I really admire their hard work and dedication.”
Basketball in Bantry has always enjoyed a very strong and successful reputation. The club is thriving once again.
“Ladies basketball is well and truly back in Bantry. Our underage teams and both men’s teams have massive numbers. Our biggest issue at the moment is getting court time.
“Unfortunately the Boys Club isn’t suitable for games. We have limited time in the secondary school to use for training sessions and matches.
“We desperately need a basketball hall. We just don’t have the facilities. The future is bright. Our club has brilliant committee members and coaches..”
The ladies really supported each other on the court. They showed a great attitude from the very start.