Saturday 25 May 2019

Roe leads by example as Ireland secure semi spot


Ireland built up an early lead thanks to big-time shots from Jordan Blount and Taiwo Badmus. Stock image: Getty
Ireland built up an early lead thanks to big-time shots from Jordan Blount and Taiwo Badmus. Stock image: Getty newsdesk

Ireland have booked their place in the semi-final of the FIBA European Championship for Small Countries after a tense 63-56 victory over Andorra in San Marino yesterday afternoon.

A late comeback from Andorra sent the game right down to the wire, but Ireland pulled through with the help of captain Ciaran Roe, who performed excellently in the dying stages.

Ireland built up an early lead thanks to big-time shots from Jordan Blount and Taiwo Badmus.

Lorcan Murphy and Travis Black were accurate from three-point range as Ireland dominated the quarter 19-8, with 15 points from Blount.

Ireland started the second quarter with the same energy as they finished the first, with Murphy and Badmus making big scores for the Boys in Green.

Andorra's turnovers allowed Ireland to counter and finish on the fast break and they built their lead to 34-16 by half-time.

Roe started the second half well as he exploited gaps in the Andorran defence to make skilful scores.

Andorra were able to claw back at Ireland though, as they hit a couple of threes in a row to force Pete Strickland to call a time-out and regroup his team.

Ireland finished the quarter strongly, with a three from Black, to lead 52-34 going into the last.

That was when momentum swung in Andorra's favour however, and some early scores from their talisman Guillem Colom closed the gap.

Andorra went on a run of unanswered scores to bring Ireland's lead down to four points, and the Irish were under severe pressure.

An intense final two minutes followed but Roe settled the nerves, adding two vital points from the free-throw line followed by a clutch drive to the basket, to secure the victory for Ireland, 63-56, and book their place in the semi-final.

Final-quarter surge sees off Cyprus

Mark Scannell and the senior women's team had the crowd in full voice at the Mardyke Arena UCC as they ran out winners over Cyprus, 73-54, in brilliant fashion.

In what was the team's final group game, the Irish stood tall despite coming off the back of two tough defeats against Norway and Luxembourg earlier in the week.

There were many stand-out stars for the Irish, with Sarah Woods, Fiona O'Dwyer, Aine McKenna, Claire Rockall and Grainne Dwyer sharing a big spread of the scoring, while huge defence from Amy Waters of local club Brunell was one of the highlights for the home crowd.

A tough opening quarter saw little between the sides; Ireland taking a two-point lead to the bench (16-14).

Ireland began to hit their stride in the second, with Rockall and O'Dwyer putting up some big scores.

A huge buzzer-beater from Woods at the end of the quarter then sent the team into the dressing-room on a high, leading 32-26.

Momentum stayed with the Irish in the early stages of the third, and despite the threat of Eleni Oikonomidou and Petra Orlovic for Cyprus, Ireland continued to stand strong and led the way 48-39 going into the last.

A huge 25-point quarter from the Irish followed, with Edel Thornton and Sorcha Tiernan both chipping in with scores and 'olé, olé, olé' was a welcome sound ringing out around the Mardyke, as Ireland closed out the game.

Irish Independent

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