Sunday 25 February 2018

WATCH: Joyous scenes as Ireland U-18 women create history

Ireland celebrate after beating Israel. Pic: @sportireland
Ireland celebrate after beating Israel. Pic: @sportireland

Ireland U-18 girls became the first Irish underage team in history to reach the semi-finals of an European Championships after beating Israel 60-55 last night.

Next up for Tommy O’Mahony’s charges is an equally challenging semi-final against Poland this evening at 6.15pm, which leaves no time to reflect on taking Irish basketball to new heights.

“We would have come into this tournament with aspirations of making the semis,” said the head coach. “These girls have high expectations for themselves. It would be nice to celebrate a little but the fact is, we are straight into preparing for the next game. That’s the challenge and we are up for it.”

Rachel Huijsdens drew first blood for Ireland and Claire Melia’s distribution edged her side to a 18-16 lead at the end of the first quarter before Israel claimed a 33-31 lead at the halfway point.

Ireland found another gear in the third quarter with Huijsden’s reintroduction but Israel’s shooting prowess kept them in touch and a pair of three-pointers left it 49-46 to Ireland heading for the final quarter.

The fourth quarter began and Israel missed nine consecutive attempts before Shirelle Berman left it at 54-50 with over three minutes remaining before a massive three-pointer from Maeve Phelan sealed victory.

Meanwhile, the Ireland U-16 boys also enjoyed victory in their second group game at the European Championship Division B in Bulgaria yesterday as they overcame Slovak Republic 54-49.

The squad had to bounce back quickly off the back of their narrow loss to Hungary on Thursday, and they did so in style, with stellar performances from both Paul Kelly and Sanmi Fajana.

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