PORTMARNOCK Community School are finally coming back down to earth this week after landing the Under-19 C Girls AllIreland title following a resilient display against a spirited Mount Anville side in the National Basketball Arena on Thursday.
Inspired by Most Valuable Player Megan Connolly, Portmarnock - coached by Megan's mum Catherine Connolly and Ireland international Isaac Westbrooks - pulled away in the final stages of a game which had been close throughout. Mount Anville were quickest off the mark, with jump shots from Aoife Gillespie and Rebecca Hunt giving them a four-point advantage early on, but Caoimhe McDonnell responded for the Fingal girls, followed soon afterwards by Connolly who found her range from distance to tie the score at six apiece. Kate Donnellan was on target again, right on the buzzer, to give Mount Anville a 10-8 lead at the end of the first quarter, only for Portmarnock to score successive baskets at the beginning of the second to restore the lead. They had found an extra gear at this stage and had soon established a five-point advantage through Ciara Clarke. Donnellan and Gillespie had Mount Anville back within one soon after, but Connolly emerged from the bench to drive Ports back into the lead, and soon afterwards she added to her tally to put her team five clear. Rebecca Hunt came up with an important response with moments remaining to make it 22-19 at half-time. The sides cancelled each other out at the beginning of the third quarter, but Donnellan was looking like her side's most likely route back into the game, and she converted her ninth point of the day to bring Mount Anville back to within one. Jennine Leenane then followed up to give Mount Anville the lead with three minutes remaining in the quarter. Connolly was in fine form, however, and she levelled the scores once more, before Alex Daly and McDonnell added further baskets to make it a four-point game. By the end of the quarter Portmarnock had established a 35-29 lead, with Caitlin Glover also prominent among the scorers on her way to a personal tally of six points. With it all to do, Mount Anville battled desperately to get back within range, but Portmarnock were in no mood to relinquish their lead and the final quarter was actually their strongest as they added a further 15 points, to just eight in reply. Reacting to the victory, deputy principal Eithne Deeney said: 'We are just very, very proud. This group of girls have been knocking on the door - it's their third all-Ireland final in recent years and their first title - so it was a huge victory for them. 'They've come up through the school together and are nearly all fifth years, so we have another year [in this tournament]. The Cup is the glamour event with the fantastic atmosphere, but we mustn't forget that they have also qualified for the All-Ireland playoffs and we wish them well in that.'
Megan Connolly, Alex Daly, Caitlin Glover, Niamh Stanley, Robyn Keane, Kate Whyte, Ciara Clarke, Ruth Wallnutt, Caoimhe McDonnell, Bea Doral, Sarah Kelly, Marta Lenguas, Amy O'Donovan.