TRALEE Imperials made it four from four in their National League campaign with a hard earnedm but fully deserved, 46-24 victory over Portlaoise on Saturday last at Mounthawk Gym in front of an appreciative home support.
Tralee Imperials 46 Portlaoise Panthers 24
Portlaoise came to Tralee with two wins from three, and were hopeful of overturning Imperials on their home patch, but the Tralee side were in no mood for slip ups, and despite playing below their best form, were in control for most of the game, especially during the second half.
Sinead Mackessy, top scorer on the night, opened the Imperials account and contributed five points to their 11 point haul in the first quarter, where they led 11-9.
Maeve Barry, Lynn Jones and Lisa Brennan had two apiece, while the visitor's had two three pointers from Catherine O'Sullivan and Maeve O'Sullivan. Playing against a hard working zone Tralee were finding it difficult to finish their approach play when close to basket, and could have been further ahead with better conversion.
A Linda Raymond three pointer opened the scoring in the second quarter as Imperials looked to up the tempo, and both Amy Fitzgerald (two points) and Maeve Barry (four points) were exerting dominance on the boards. Portlaoise to their credit recovered their rhythm and with baskets from their top scorer on the night, Mary Callanan (four points), Karen O'Sullivan (four points) and Deirdre Tomlinson (two points) drew level, before a brace from Mackessy, closed the first half at 25-19 in Tralee's favour.
The second half was remarkable for the defensive pressure applied by Imperials as they restricted scoring opportunities to a minimum, forcing many turnovers, controlling their own boards and on occasion denying shots in the 24 second time frame. It became frustrating for Portlaoise as they were held to fourpoints in the third quarter and just one point in the fourth.
Tralee, while still not scoring freely, nevertheless gradually pulled away from their opponents with Emma Sherwood to the fore with five points, including a long range three pointer. Mackessy continued to blossom, scoring nine in the half, while Deirdre Geaney, Deirdre Kearney and Barry completed the scoring for Tralee, as they ran out comfortable winners 4624.
Next weekend the Imperials travel to Galway, to take on NUIG. Galway features an impressive American on their team, and with her in their ranks they had a very comprehensive victory over Castleisland on Saturday.
The game poses a very real challenge to Tralee, but they can be relied upon to meet the challenge head on. Home venue may well be the deciding factor to the outcome. Tralee Imperials: S Mackessy 17, M Barry 10, A O'Mahony, D Geaney, 2, A Fitzgerald 2, E Sherwood 5, L Brennan 2, D Kearney 3, L Raymond 3,L Jones 2, C Brennan. Team Garveys IN the men's national league division one Team Garvey's host Blue Demons this Saturday, November 24 at 7.45pm.
Team Garveys will meet Fr Matthews of Cork on Wednesday, November 28 in Colaiste Criost Rí, Cork at 8.15pm.