Fr Mathews go the distance to make history at Super League level

Fr Mathews go the distance to make history at Super League level

Fr Mathews celebrate their victory at full time in the Women’s Champions Trophy final. Picture: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Fr Mathews 83 Courtyard Liffey Celtics 70 (after overtime) 

FR Mathews won their first ever title at Super League level when they defeated league and cup champions Liffey Celtics in an epic Women’s Champions Trophy final at the DCU complex yesterday.

All looked lost for the Cork side with five seconds remaining when they trailed 66-63 following two Aine O’Connor free throws.

From the inbound Niamh Dwyer took the ball up court before dishing it to sister Grainne who drained a monstrous three-pointer on the buzzer that forced the game to overtime, which the Cork side then dominated to prevent Celtics pulling off a clean sweep of silverware.

The opening exchanges were competitive with both sides playing excellent defence.

Mathew’s Hollie Herlihy a regular starter for her team all season was replaced by Amanda O’Regan having picked up an injury playing UCC in the Intervarsities tournament.

Sorcha Tiernan certainly keeps her best basketball for playing against Cork sides and an early three-pointer helped the Kildare side lead 6-4.

Credit to Mathews they kept battling and with Grainne Dwyer showing excellent battling qualities she helped claw her team back into contention.

In the closing possession, American Chantelle Alford drained a beautiful jumper as Mathews commanded an 18-14 lead entering the second quarter.

On the restart, both sides were making basic errors and on each occasion, Mathews threatened to take control Aine O’Connor executed key baskets.

Once again Grainne Dwyer was the one Mathews player that was at her best and a basket and bonus helped her side lead 29-26 with three minutes remaining.

On the next play, Alford picked up a ball on the wing and drained a magnificent three-pointer that gave Mathews a six-point lead with the seconds ticking down.

The Kildare side had only 13 seconds to respond and careless defence allowed Sorcha Tiernan nail a stunning three-pointer that reduced the deficit to three points at the break 34-31.

In the third quarter, Mathews' turnovers began to hurt them as Liffey Celtics punished them at will and entering the final quarter they trailed 52-48.

In the final period, Mathews looked to be losing control as they allowed the Liffey American Allie LeClaire dictate the pace in the offence court before Dwyer’s last gasp basket.

In overtime, it was the Dwyer show as Grainne and Niamh ran the show and when Chantelle Alford drained a stunning three-pointer the lead increased to 11 points.

In the end, the battling qualities of Fr Mathews got them over the line much to the relief of coach James Fleming.

“We were made fight for this win but our never say die attitude won it for us and I would like to pay tribute to a smashing squad for their incredible commitment throughout the season,” said Fleming.

The Fr Mathews panel and coaches. Picture: INPHO/Oisin Keniry
The Fr Mathews panel and coaches. Picture: INPHO/Oisin Keniry

Scorers for Fr Mathew’s: G Dwyer 31, C Alford 19, S Brady 12, N Dwyer 10.

Liffey Celtics: A LeClaire 29, S Tiernan 17, Aine O’Connor 15.

Fr MATHEWS: H Herlihy, A Fitzgerald, N Dwyer, A O’Regan, G Dwyer, L Nolan, R Finn, A Lynch, S Brady, H McCarthy, A Fitzgerald.

CELTICS: A Pupin Romanawska, K Mealey, S Tiernan, A LeClaire, N Masterson, S Homan, M Howe, A O’Connor, Aine O’Connor.

Referees: L Cassidy (Dublin), M Gilleran (Dublin), L Ahern (Limerick).

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