NATIONAL LEAGUE DIVISION 1 Tralee Imperials 69 University Limerick 26 TRALEE Imperials secured an emphatic, if facile, victory over University of Limerick on Saturday night last at Mounthawk Gym on a 69-26 scoreline.
The UL Huskies were no match for a superior Tralee team that maintained its unbeaten run in this season's National League and began the New Year in a confident and determined manner. It was a timely boost to morale coming after the heartbreaking defeat on the buzzer to NUIG in the Castleisland Christmas blitz and in advance of next weekend's showdown in the Cup semi-final against local rivals, St Mary's, Castleisland.
The first half in Mounthawk was dour for the home supporters, as both teams struggled to establish any kind of rhythm, missed many scoring opportunities and were guilty of simple and silly turnovers. The 14-5 score line at first quarter end tells its own tale, with Sherwood and Mackessy netting four each for the home side. The second quarter saw UL come more into the game, especially through the promptings of Orlaith Woods and Karen Murphy, but Tralee edged the quarter 12-10 to lead 26-15 at the interval. Sherwood again led the way on four, with Lynn Jones and Linda Raymondon the buzzer- hitting two threes to lead by nine points.
The expectations of the home support were fully realised in the third quarter, as Imperials founds their natural rhythm and exuberance to completely dismantle their opponents. Playing at a much higher intensity and with greater pace Tralee won the quarter 20-0 and effectively killed off the game. Sinead Mackessy (8) and Maeve Barry (6) led the way, and baskets from Deirdre Kearney, -whose energy and no nonsense approach fired her teammates to greater heights in this quarter, Linda Raymond and Deirdre Geaney widened the gap to 46-15 at quarter end.
The final quarter saw an impressive total from the Brennan sisters, with Lisa on 8 and Clare on 4, while Aisling O Mahony weighed in with her customary three pointer. Strong rebounding from Amy Fitzgerald (2) and Deirdre Geaney (4) was the catalyst for many fast breaks which Imperials took with ease, as Limerick tried to stem the tide, but to no avail. IMPERIALS: S Mackessy 14, L Raymond 5, A O Mahony 3, D Geaney 6, L Brennan 10, C Brennan 4, L Jones 7, E Sherwood 10, A Fitzgerald 2, D Kearney 2, M Barry 6