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St Pauls go to top of Southern Conference after rolling over Swords Thunder in Killarney

Sixth successive National League win propels St Pauls ahead of Portlaoise Panthers


The St Pauls team that beat Swords Thunder in the National League Division One in the Killarney Sports & Leisure Centre on Saturday. Photo by Tatyana McGough

The St Pauls team that beat Swords Thunder in the National League Division One in the Killarney Sports & Leisure Centre on Saturday. Photo by Tatyana McGough

The St Pauls team that beat Swords Thunder in the National League Division One in the Killarney Sports & Leisure Centre on Saturday. Photo by Tatyana McGough



St Paul’s Killarney 102

Swords Thunder 41

The St Pauls women juggernaut shows no sign of abating as a sixth successive league win saw them jump to the top of the Southern Conference. Previous occupants of the position, Portlaoise Panthers, relinquished their hold on it following a third defeat on the spin, this time over the high flying Cavan Eagles.

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The Panthers had enjoyed an impeccable start to the season, winning their first eight games, but it seemed that the first defeat of the season, inflicted on them by St Pauls, had seen them get stuck in a rut. But credit to James Fleming side they have seized the initiative and with three of their next four games at home, they have put themselves into a position that they would have craved for at the season's beginning.

Their latest win, achieved at the Killarney Sports and Leisure Centre, can be filed in the comfortable category, as a Swords Thunder side could do little to halt the lightning quick offence of the Killarney side. With Kerry embarking on their Lidl Ladies National League campaign, the availability of Lorraine Scanlon and Siofra O’Shea will be subject to fixture clashes at times so the benefit of having a big and functioning squad all winter is starting to bear fruit. Aisling O’Mahony slid into Scanlons place as Rheanne O'Shea opened her sides account with a three point play.

Sofia Paska and Yuleska Tejeda pushed it out to 7-0 but Bethany Thompson and Aisling Sullivan hit two threes. Orla Keoghegan levelled it at 7-7 but Denise Dunlea and Leah McMahon climbed off the bench to hit six points on the trot. Peggy Black and Laura Fortune were trying to make things happen for the visitors but Rheanne O’Shea, Paska and Tejeda punished them at every opportunity, leaving the first quarter advantage at 24-11.

Swords will do well to forget about the second quarter as a rampant and focussed home side literally stole their thunder. Jessica Quirke was prominent as St Pauls shuffled their deck at every opportunity but it did little to disrupt their fluidity and a robust defence limited the Dublin side to just four points. Nine St Pauls players found themselves on the score sheet at the same time with the old reliables Paska and Tejeda hitting eight apiece and in truth the game was done and dusted at half time, at 54-15.

With the result in no doubt the game lost a bit of its tempo but the upside of this was the rotational of positions which saw all ten players get playing time. To be fair to Swords they enjoyed a much better third quarter, Aisling Sullivan was particularly prominent, and Peggy Black never gave up the ghost. They outscored Pauls 18-16 but not even that could overshadow a fine three pointer by Lynn Jones.

The fourth quarter saw St Pauls pick up the baton again and Tejeda was adamant she was going to finish the game strong. Her thirteen points were the highlight of the quarter as Aisling O’Mahony and the improving Denise Dunlea both shot from beyond the arc. Sofia Paska chipped in as usual while Tara Donnellan got reward for her seven minutes on court with a neat basket.

Understandably at the stage Swords could be forgiven for looking for the exit door but they plugged away with Orla Keoghegan and the impressive Sullivan trying hard. But truth to be told, the gulf in class between the sides was reflected in the 102-41 scoreline.

So tougher tasks lie ahead for St Pauls but entering into the business end of the season it's all about picking up the win.

Yuleska Tejeda top scored with 31 points, Sofia Paska had 24, Rheanne O’Shea (13), Denise Dunlea (11), Lynn Jones (10), Leah McMahon (6), Aisling O’Mahony (3), Jessica Quirke (2), Tara Donnellan (2), Kate O’Connor.

Aisling Sullivan was Swords best with 12, Orla Keoghegan had 8, Peggy Black 7 and Bethany Thomspon 5.

SETU Carlow are the next arrivals to the Killarney Sports and Leisure this Saturday February 4th. Currently sitting outside the playoff spots they have little chance of advancing to that stage but they possess in Scout Frame the top scorer in the entire league. Averaging just under 30 points per game she will take some watching and with a win last time out over the Marble City Hawks they will have an added pep in their step.

Miah Ryan, Annie Digan and Kiley Gelston are also enjoying a good season and of course the team is coached by Martin Conroy who also has the reins of the SETU Carlow men’s side. Given their current run of form St Pauls will be strong favourites for this clash but as with all games you must still go out and earn the win. Tip off is at 4.30pm.