TRALEE Imperials made the long journey to Donegal Town on Saturday last a worthwhile experience by securing their place in the National Cup semi final with a facile victory over the host team, on a 77-26 score line.
Tralee Imperials 77 Donegal Town 26
With Castleisland defeating the University of Limerick, the scene is now set for a mouth watering all Kerry clash on cup semi-final weekend on January 12/13, at a venue yet to be decided.
There is no doubt that this game will attract many basketball fans as both teams are capable of providing brilliant basketball, as befits two of the top teams in the country at Div 1 level.
Donegal Town were out of their depth right from the start of this game, as Imperials were quickly into their stride, defending strongly and creating scoring opportunities at will. Emma Sherwood (6), Maeve Barry (6) and Linda Raymond (5) were scoring freely throughout the first quarter, which Tralee won 22-7. Only Maeve Liston and Charlene Mc Hugh registered scores for Donegal, who found the Tralee defence difficult to break down.
The second quarter saw a similar trend with Tralee winning it 25-12. Lisa Brennan (3), Amy Fitzgerald (3) and the game's top scorer Sinead Mackessy (6), led the way but the highlight of the quarter was the three point shooting of Lynn Jones, Deirdre Kearney and Linda Raymond.
The third and final quarters were played out without the normal intensity levels associated with cup competitions.
Donegal managed just 7 points in this half as their coach introduced new players to the game but with the same disheartening results for the home side, as Tralee proved too strong in all aspects of play. Led superbly by Sinead Mackessy (19 points) and the energetic Emma Sherwood in the front court, Imperials were scoring freely. Amy Fitzgerald thundered into the game in this period, as did Lisa Brennan, and with Aisling O'Mahony finding her three point shooting range, Tralee pulled further and further away from their opponents, to win comfortably 77-26. On a disappointing night for the host team, who were definitely playing below par on the night, only Tara Khan, Elizabeth Duffy and Maeve Liston emerged from the game with their reputations intact.
This is the Imperials last competitive encounter in league and cup in 2012. As the year ends they sit comfortably at the top of the League table and in the semi final of the Cup. The team is consistently performing well and will be eagerly looking forward to the challenges of the New Year, as they face in to the daunting challenge of Castleisland in the cup in January, and continue their chase for the National league title which eluded them last year at the hands of their Kerry rivals! Before that there is also the Castleisland Christmas Blitz to whet the appetite for the game of basketball. Enjoy the festivities! TRALEE IMPERIALS: S Mackessy 19, M Barry 9, A O Mahony 4, A Fitzgerald 11, E Sherwood 10, L Brennan 9, D Kearney 5, L Jones 3, L Raymond 8.