SENIOR WOMEN'S NATIONAL CUP
SEMI-FINAL Tralee Imperials 68 Team Tom McCarthy's 48 IT was an all-Kerry affair in the second Senior Women's National Cup Semi-Final as Tralee Imperials lined out against their neighbours from Castleisland, Team Tom McCarthy's.
Imperials entered the game as hot favourites after a blistering start to their Basketball Ireland Women's Division One season that has seen them win every game so far and perched firmly atop the table.
While Team Tom McCarthy's had flashes of brilliance, in truth Tralee Imperials were simply too good on the day and deservingly exited the game grasping a ticket to the National Cup Final in Dublin later this month where they will face Oblate Dynamos.
The outcome was far from clear in the early exchanges however as Tralee and Tom McCarthy's traded basket for basket and at quarters end the score read 14 to 12 in favour of Imperials.
Imperials quickly found their rhythm in the second quarter and what had been just a two point lead ballooned to fourteen within the blink of an eye. The inside outside combination of Sinead Greaney (who had five points in the second) and Deirdre Greaney (who had six) was a big part of the sudden spurt for the league leaders.
Confronted with a zone defence, Imperials utilised the high post to great effect with Meabh Barry making incisive cuts and drives to draw fouls and collapse the Tom McCarthy guards as the Tralee lead at the half 37 to 25.
While Team Tom McCarthy's and in particular Miriam Leane continued to fight by looking to push the fast break, Tralee played exemplary defence and kept their opponents, by and large, out of the paint.
Tralee's inspirational forward Sinead Mackessy lead all scorers in the third quarter with five points as she exerted a major influence over proceedings, cementing the Imperials defence.
As such, a comeback never looked all that likely and after carrying a 53 to 37 lead into the fourth quarter, Imperials had the class to see out the contest.
Their ability to slow down the offence and pick when to attack was a lesson in late-game efficiency when a team has a lead and they deservingly finished winners 68 to 48. Top scorers Tralee Imperials: D Greany 13, E Sherwood 12, S Mackessy 11) Team Tom McCarthys: L Scanlon 12, M Leane 11, P O'Connor 7