20 WOMEN'S NATIONAL CUP QUARTER-FINAL Brunell, Cork 62 Tralee Imperials 41 TRALEE Imperials under 20 squad made their exit from the National Cup at the quarter final stage on Sunday last, when they went under to an excellent performance on their home patch in Gurranabraher from Brunell.
The Cork side were on the day the better side and deserved their victory, while Tralee were hampered by the unavailability of key players, Laura Rogers and Aoife Geaney, through injury. Despite the defeat the team can hold their heads up for a fully committed and wholehearted display against one of the better teams in basketball, all of whom play in Super league competition.
The first half was evenly contested, with Tralee hitting the opening baskets from Eilish O'Connor and Deirdre Geaney, top scorer on the day with 15 points. Brunell opened their account through their point guard, Megan O'Leary and Edel Thornton, both of whom made magnificent contributions to their team's victory, scoring 17 and 22 points respectively.
The Cork side led 15-11 at the first break, with Deirdre Kearney and Maeve Barry impressive for Tralee.
The second quarter saw another very evenly matched encounter, with the teams cancelling each other out on defence and scores at a premium. The score remained unchanged on 25-21 for over 3 minutes, with Tralee's baskets coming from the excellent Kearney, Amy Fitzgerald, Clare Brennan and Barry, before late baskets from Thornton, Waters and O'Leary widened the gap at the half time to 30-21.
The third quarter proved the undoing of Tralee, as Brunell piled on the pressure, forcing many turnovers, all of which seemed to be punished relentlessly on the scoreboard. Inspired by O'Leary, Brunell upped the tempo of the game by several notches, and with ever greater intensity on defence, Tralee found scores extremely hard to come by, despite the best efforts of Kearney, Barry and Geaney, and the spirited and strong contributions of Deirdre O'Shea and Brid O'Connor when introduced.
It was one of those quarters when Tralee couldn't buy a basket, in contrast to their opponents who were on a roll and made every opportunity count, as they won the quarter 20-7.
The final quarter saw a spirited attempt at recovery by Imperials, who won the quarter 13-12, but the gap was too wide and Brunell ran out convincing winners.
Imperials have little time to lick their wounds however as the club have two more teams in Cup action next weekend.
The senior side are away to Donegal on Saturday night and the Under-18 squad play Drimnagh Dynamos in Dublin on Sunday.
This will be the club's third visit to the Oblate Hall this season, as the Under 20's and the senior National League team have already recorded fine victories over the Dublin side in cup and league respectively. May the trend continue. IMPERIALS: D Geaney 15, M Barry 6, D Kearney 6, A Fitzgerald 3, C Brennan 4, B O'Connor 4, E O'Connor 3, D O'Shea, L Rogers, A Geaney.