Thursday, May 30, 2024

Mercy Mounthawk Tralee beaten in three All-Ireland Schools League basketball finals

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It was heartbreak for the Tralee school as they lost the Under-19 Boys ‘A’ and Under-19 Girls ‘A’ and ‘B’ finals in Tallaght

The Under-19 Boys were first into action in the ‘A’ final but lost by 54 points to 62 against Coláiste Éanna from Dublin. Immediately on to the court after them were the girls in the U-19 ‘A’ final but they also tasted defeat, going down to Virginia College, Cavan by 52-42.

Mercy Mounthawk’s third final was in the U-19 ‘B’ Girls competition but again defeat was the school’s lot as they lost out to Heywood Community School from Laois on a 48-31 scoreline to compound a hugely anticlimactic day for the school.

This afternoon (Wednesday) the girls from Presentation Convent in Tralee will be hoping to bring one All-Ireland League title back to the town when they take on Loreto Bray at 3.45pm in the Under-16 ‘B’ final at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght.

Under-19 ‘A’ Boys All-Ireland Final

Coláiste Éanna 62

Mercy Mounthawk 54

Coláiste Éanna served up a display of exceptional composure to surmount Mercy Mounthawk and land their third successive All-Ireland Under 19A Boys Schools League title, winning out 62-54 in the National Basketball Arena on Tuesday.

Looking to avenge their loss to Mercy in the National Cup semi-finals earlier this season, Éanna stole a march on their Tralee rivals early on in this League decider, racing 8-0 up within the opening two minutes as Viktor Lovic and Adam Charles each drained two buckets.

But Mercy soon settled and restored parity, courtesy of David Lucid and Tomas Kennedy who quickly followed his big three with a deuce.

Still, it was the Dubliners who finished that opening period on the front foot thanks to buckets by Lovic and Dean Kiernan that left them up by four.

The second quarter proved a real see-saw affair as buckets from Olaf Michalczuk, Kennedy and Lucid for Mercy were countered with those of Nathan Comerford, Lovic and Charles for Éanna.

The Rathfarnham side still held a three-point advantage heading into the third quarter, but a Michalczuk effort from beyond the arc, coupled with a Kennedy effort saw Mounthawk overtake into a two-point lead.

It set the scene for another enthralling quarter of basketball in which both sides continued to go toe-to-toe, with the lead swinging back and forth.

Yet Éanna suddenly began to inflict a lot more damage from downtown, as Comerford, Adam McCarthy, Kiernan and Adam Walsh all got a return from their long-distance attempts before Charles had the Éanna faithful on their feet with a delightful dunk on the counter.

Mercy Mounthawk’s Olaf Michalczuk drives to the basket in the All-Ireland U19 A Boys Final against Coláiste Éanna, Dublin. Photo by INPHO

That capped a superb close to the penultimate quarter for the Dubliners who led by 11 heading into the closing eight minutes of play, which they ignited with Lovic and Charles buckets that pushed their advantage out to 15.

Tralee’s Joshua Osayanrhion attempted to jar that momentum with a steal and basket only to see Kiernan respond with yet another three for Éanna.

Osayanrhion went to the line for two more before Michalczuk drained a three to make it a seven-point game, but a three-point play by Charles helped Éanna keep the ship steady.

Lovic was left in the clear to plant a bucket before Charles claimed one from the line to keep the Dubliners up by seven with a minute to go and Mercy were unable to produce a late special to turn this one around.

Top scorers

Mercy Mounthawk: Olaf Michalczuk (20), Tomas Kennedy (15), Joshua Osayanrhion (15)

Coláiste Éanna: Adam Charles (16), Viktor Lovic (16), Nathan Comerford (11), Dean Kiernan (11).

Mercy Mounthawk: Ryne Ybanez, Tomas Kennedy, David Lucid, Ryan Sheehy, Oisin McGibney, Evan Boyle, Roan Grattan, Johnny Dawson, Conor Galvin, Sean Heaslip, Olaf Michalczuk, Joshua Osayanrhion.

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Under-19 ‘A’ Girls All-Ireland Final

Virginia College, Cavan 52

Mercy Mounthawk 42

Virginia College recorded a hard-fought 52-42 triumph over Mercy Mounthawk in the National Basketball Arena on Tuesday to make it back-to-back All-Ireland Under 19A Girls Schools League honours for the school.

Neither side was willing to give an inch in the opening half of this decider and they completed the first quarter deadlocked at eight points apiece.

While Mercy’s Holly O’Brien and Anna Collins combined for seven in that early period, it was game MVP Emma Tolan who spearheaded Virginia College’s charge, as she accounted for all, but one point of their first-quarter tally.

And it remained extremely tight all the way through the second quarter, with three points proving the maximum gap between the two sides right up until the very end of that phase of the tie.

Tolan increased her own total to 10 by the break as Katie Noble, Sinéad Kelly and Katelyn McElhinney also began to get in on the scoring act for the Cavan side.

At the other end of the court, Laura Sugrue was beginning to find her range, as was Emily Flynn, but a big buzzer-beater from outside the arc by McElhinney gifted Virginia College a four-point cushion at the half.

And matters grew a lot more ominous for the Tralee side after the break as their opponents strung together a 13-point run that featured buckets from Kelly and McElhinney, together with a superb three-point play by Tolan.

A dejected Holly O’Brien bows her head after Mercy Mounthawk lost the All-Ireland Schools League U-19 A Girls final to Virginia College, Cavan. Photo by INPHO

That surge pushed Virginia’s lead out to 17 points, but Mercy were not about to throw in the towel and reduced their arrears to 12 thanks to big threes from Anna Collins and Lucy O’Connor.

Yet they were unable to build on those scores, as the Cavan side took a 15-point cushion into the final quarter after both Tolan and Kelly drew fouls and went to the line.

O’Brien did her utmost to rally Mercy with a brilliant steal and layup at the outset of the fourth after which she delivered from outside the arc to reduce the gap to nine.

A big three-point play by O’Connor helped fuel hope of a possible comeback, but Tolan’s bucket from outside the arc went some way to undermining such a prospect.

And when she then planted another basket and drew a foul which she punished from the line, Virginia College were home and hosed.

Top scorers

Virginia College: Emma Tolan (23), Katelyn McElhinney (13), Sinéad Kelly (12)

Mercy Mounthawk: Holly O’Brien (13), Lucy O’Connor (7), Anna Collins (7), Emily Flynn (7)

Mercy Mounthawk: Rachel Griffin, Holly O’Brien, Laura Sugrue, Niamh Collins, Lucy O’Donnell, Doireann O’Shea, Mary Moore, Lucy O’Connor, Anna Collins, Emily Flynn, Kelly Fitzgerald, Grace Lucid.

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Under-19 ‘A’ Girls All-Ireland Final

Heywood CS, Laois 48

Mercy Mounthawk 31

Heywood Community School brought home the Under-19 ‘B’ League title after they chalked up a 48-31 victory over Mercy Mounthawk ‘B’ in Tuesday’s decider.

Early buckets by Caoimhe Brophy, Kaylee O’Keeffe and Coldage Gee saw Heywood register seven points by the time their opponents opened their own account through Cara Gannon.

From there Mercy managed to close the gap to a single point thanks in no small measure to sublime three-pointers from Kate Collins and skipper, Roisin Rahilly. Heywood ended that period four points in front after Brophy struck from both the floor and free-throw line.

Another big defensive display saw Heywood hold Mercy to just five points in the second quarter, while they put up 13, compliments of captain, Faye McEvoy, who really lit up the court with a 10-point haul over those eight minutes.

It left their Tralee opponents with a 12-point gap to make up, but that did not appear a likely prospect after Brophy, Louise Doyle and O’Keeffe all put up scores to push Heywood’s advantage out to 16 just two minutes into the second half.

Cara Gannon of Mercy Mounthawk on the ball against Heywood’s Caoimhe Brophy in the All-Ireland Schools League U-19 B Girls final. Photo by INPHO

Rahilly served up another two buckets, while Grace Reidy and Roisin Quinn each added a deuce, but it did not amount to any sort of an erosion of Heywood’s lead.

They did enjoy a little more success in that endeavour in the fourth quarter as Rahilly and Lisa Slattery helped reduce the gap to 11. But Heywood were always able to summon up a response, and baskets from O’Keeffe and Louise Doyle down the stretch ensured that Mounthawk were kept at arm’s length.

Top scorers

Heywood Community School: Faye McEvoy (12), Louise Doyle (10), Kaylee O’Keeffe (8)

Mercy Mounthawk: Roisin Rahilly (12), Lisa Slattery (4), Grace Reidy (4), Cara Gannon (4)

Mercy Mounthawk: Rebecca O’Mahony, Eva Costelloe, Lucy Gratton, Cara Gannon, Kate Collins, Roisin Quinn, Laura Reilly, Lily May O’Gara, Grace Reidy, Lisa Slattery, Roisin Rahilly

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