Battling Brunell U18s fall victim to lethal Portlaoise Panthers in basketball semi

Battling Brunell U18s fall victim to lethal Portlaoise Panthers in basketball semi
Lauryn Homan of Singleton SuperValu Brunell battles Jasmine Burke of Portlaoise Panthers during the Hula Hoops U18 Women's National Cup semi-final. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Portlaoise Panthers 58 Singleton’s SuperValu Brunell 50

PORTLAOISE PANTHERS produced a solid performance before overcoming Singleton’s SuperValu Brunell in a highly competitive Women’s U18 National Cup semi-final at the Parochial Hall.

Brunell were highly fancied coming into the game but coach Kieran O’Leary admitted after the game the occasion may have got to some of his players.

“We were taken to the cleaners on the boards at both ends of the floor and with a lot of our shots not dropping, it was a difficult game for us against a very good side,” said Kieran O’Leary.

Despite the defeat the Brunell chief believes there is a good crop of players coming through the ranks that augurs well for the future of the club.

“Look it’s heartbreaking losing any semi-final for young players but sometimes you have to take a step back to take two forward. I do believe there is good talent in this squad and hopefully they will learn from this experience.”

Anna Morrissey of Singleton SuperValu Brunell takes on Ciara Byrne. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Anna Morrissey of Singleton SuperValu Brunell takes on Ciara Byrne. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

The mood in the Portlaoise camp was one elation as coach Jack Dooley praised the effort of his player.

“The majority of this squad were also involved at U20 and in the Women’s Division 1 teams so you could say they had a busy but successful weekend in Cork,” said Jack Dooley.

The opening quarter was tense for both sides but tremendous work on the boards from Molly Blount kept the home side very much in the game.

Both sides looked a little tentative, but the Panthers did manage to finish the quarter in style when Gillian Wheeler nailed a neat jumper that tied the game at 14 points each.

On the restart, Brunell attempted to press the Panthers but their efforts were dismal as they allowed their opponents score five unchallenged lay ups.

The Midlanders looked a polished side in the manner they exposed Brunell at the post and looked comfortable at the break when commanding a 38-29 lead.

On the restart, Brunell looked sharper in defence but after a testing period the Panthers inspired by some outstanding movement to the hoop by Ciara Byrne saw them extend their lead to 10 points.

Trailing 51-39 entering the closing quarter, Brunell pressed again and some great work by Blount helped reduce the deficit to six points with four minutes remaining.

Molly Blount of Singleton SuperValu Brunell in action against Jasmine Burke of Portlaoise Panthers during the Hula . Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Molly Blount of Singleton SuperValu Brunell in action against Jasmine Burke of Portlaoise Panthers during the Hula . Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

On every occasion that Brunell looked likely to get back in the game they chose wrong shooting and passing options that helped their opponents close out the game.

In the end, Brunell can have few excuses but the manner in which they battled to the wire should be commended against a very well-prepared side.

PANTHERS: Z Mulvihill, J Burke, L Blaney, C Byrne, G O’Reilly, F Umeh, E Byrne, J Burke, S Tuohy, G Wheeler, S Dooley, S Fleming.

BRUNELL: A Morrissey, N Bowdren, K Sexton, A Roddis, L Homan, L Crean-Hickey, M Finnegan, M Blount, M Ugwah, E Sutton, A Cronin.

Referees: L Cassidy (Dublin), C White (Dublin), S Guebelli (Dublin).

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