THIRD time lucky for UCC Glanmire coach Mark Scannell and his team in the Paudie O’Connor National Cup final as he finally got a win over his great friend Mark Ingle from DCU Mercy.
Having lost twice previously to Ingle in finals, Scannell will have enjoyed this cup comeback for a number of reasons, his seventh as a coach and the club’s eighth.
Firstly, it is always personal between himself and Ingle and then his team had to come back from the dead.
And they did so in an incredible fourth-quarter turnaround outscoring their opponents 29-13 with two huge three-pointers from Claire Melia and Aine McKenna in a 30-second spell when they were trailing 57-60 with just over four minutes left in the final that gave Glanmire the belief they could win this final.
UCC Glanmire coach Mark Scannell and MVP Claire Melia talk to John McHale after their National Cup Final win over DCU Mercy pic.twitter.com/hugCw5Wy8I— EchoLive.ie (@echolivecork) January 23, 2022
Inspired by MVP Melia, McKenna, who was winning her seventh medal, Carrie Shephard and Tierney Pfirman, this was a win that said as much about Glanmire’s character as much as their skill set.
The Address UCC Glanmire got off to a great start thanks to some super shooting by their inspirational captain McKenna who hit two threes in succession in the opening minutes to set the tone for the other Glanmire players to follow.
Grace and Melia added baskets before DCU coach Mark Ingle was forced to call a timeout to settle his side as they trailed 10-2.
Their movement on offense was a joy to watch as they constantly looked to find a teammate in a better position to score.
Melia with seven points was controlling the game. She is a super player. Never hurried or bothered, she always takes the right option on both ends of the floor.
Grace also did her bit with four points and two rebounds to see her side lead 25-17 at the end of the first.
It was looking like it was going to be a great day for the Cork side such was the standard of their play. But, DCU came storming back into the final in the second thanks to their defence, outscoring Glanmire 7-0 with Huidjsdens and Greenberg doing the scoring and with just over five to play, the Glanmire lead was one point, 25-24.
Glanmire’s scoring ability had suddenly dried up as DCU started to find their mojo on offence as well as defence. This was turning into the classic final we waited all weekend to see play out.
Shephard scored Glanmire’s first basket of the second quarter with just over four to play to maintain their slender lead, but the momentum was all DCU’S at this stage and they maintained it until the half where they went into the break leading 34-31.
This was an incredible turnaround. Melia was held scoreless, as Glanmire only managed to add six points to their tally whereas DCU maintained their scoring adding another 17 to the 17 they hit in the first quarter.
DCU maintained the form in the third quarter with Thornton, Greenberg and Mayze all impressing as Glanmire continued to miss open shots and by the end of the third, DCU lead by nine, 52-43 and unless Glanmire’s big players Melia, McKenna, Shephard and Pfirman came back into the game in the final 10 minutes, the writing was on the wall for Glanmire.
This would be more cup final heartbreak for Mark Scannell and his team.
The Glanmire stars did not disappoint when it mattered most.
Facing another cup final defeat they showed their true character, spirit and incredible skill set as Melia, McKenna and Pfirman all came good when it mattered most turning this lost cause into one of the best victories of Mark Scannell’s long and distinguished coaching career.
This was an epic win. This was an epic final.
Congratulations to both teams.