Singleton’s SuperValu Brunell 64 Limerick Celtics 43
AN incredible performance from Singleton’s SuperValu Brunell saw them qualify for the final of the Women’s U18 National Cup following a dominant win over reigning champions Limerick Celtics at the Parochial Hall.
In a carnival atmosphere, Brunell played with the heart and passion that has been associated with this club for many years.
The Limerick side defeated Brunell by 15 points when the sides last clashed in a preseason tournament but newly appointed coaches Jodie Black and Edel Thornton have brought some serious structure into this team, particularly in defence.
Amy Buckley only took 15 seconds to get Celtics up and running but fairness both sides were on fire in the early exchanges with a brace of Ava Walsh baskets giving Brunell an 8-4 lead in the third minute.
The leading Celtics player Irish International Amy Buckley was getting special attention with Walsh playing some outstanding defence that restricted her influence.
After looking the better side for the majority of the quarter Brunell made a few errors but with the match officials not witnessing any fouls being committed by the Shannonsiders the deficit was reduced to 16-12 with 2.12 remaining in this period.
Izzy McSweeney nailed a monstrous three-pointer only for Buckley to respond with a similar shot but at the end of the quarter, Brunell commanded a five-point lead:21-16.
On the restart, Brunell to their credit increased the intensity in defence that forced Celtics coach Tony Hehir to call a time-out after just two minutes and his side trailing by seven points.
The poor officiating continued with the home side on the end of some very poor decisions that infuriated the home crowd.
It was clear the reigning champions Limerick Celtics were getting affected by the occasion as their shooting was well below their normal standard.
In the closing minutes, both teams struggled in the offence court but a magnificent drive to the hoop by McSweeney ensured the home side commanded an eight-point lead 33-25 at the break.
It must be documented the commentary by Clifford Peyton was top-class as he kept the crowd entertained in this enthralling semi-final.
Celtics looked more focused coming back out but after a lively opening Brunell began finding their shooting range and when Kelsey Cooper nailed a baseline jumper in the 24th minute they extended their lead to 38-27 with the Limerick side calling a time-out.
The closing minutes were all about Brunell showing true resolve and the northside club were in a good position entering the final quarter when commanding a 16-point lead: 49-33.
In front of their jubilant fans and loyal sponsor Tomás Singleton, Brunell certainly kept control coming down the stretch.
Make no mistake this is an improving Brunell team and their fans will surely flock to Dublin on the weekend of January 20-23 for the decider against Trinity Meteors who also produced a shock when eliminating Liffey Celtics in the second semi-final.
Beware Dublin the Nellies are back in town.