Hugely successful Test Series for Ireland U15 Womens squad
April 17, 2017
The Irish Under 15 Women’s squad had a superb international test series in Scotland over the weekend, where they took on Scotland’s Under 15 and 16 squads.
Ireland U15: 83
Ireland Under 15 Women’s team got their International friendlies against Scotland U15 and U16 off to a fantastic start. The starting five, led by captain Gillian Wheeler, came out all guns blazing in the first quarter, pressuring Scotland into some early turnovers. The girls took a quick 16-1 lead with just 4 minutes gone in the game through some fantastic scoring and help defence from Ciara Mulleady and Vicky Young. A magnificent two and a half minutes of play from Wheeler (where she had four points, two steals and an assist) was sadly cut short as she picked up an ankle injury. Ireland regrouped quickly, but Scotland soon answered back with two quick threes. A steal and finish from Karyl Martir got Ireland back on track with 1.30 to go, and saw Ireland regain control and take a 29-7 end of first quarter lead.
The second quarter began just as the first had ended, with Dara Diggin proving to be a nightmare for Scotland on the offensive boards as she dominated the paint. Abigail Rafferty imposed herself as soon as she was on the floor and immediately went to work inside, getting to the free throw line to extend the lead further. Hazel Finn started to take over in the second quarter - coming up with a number of steals and getting to the basket at will - including a fantastic steal and break away layup where she got fouled and converted the free throw to see Ireland into a 38-14 point lead midway through the second quarter. Sarah Hickey took it upon herself to ensure Scotland wouldn't score for the rest of the half as she covered every inch of the floor on defence and provided back-to-back assists for Shauna Dooley and Ciara Mulleaady to see Ireland going in at half time up by 52-20.
Scotland opened the third quarter with fighting spirit, hitting a three-pointer immediately and upping the intensity on defence. Ireland’s offence slowed down a little but the introduction of Ciara Walsh saw Ireland shut down the Scottish offence with Ciara completely closing down anyone who came near her and, after notching a driving layup, meant that every Irish player was on the scoresheet. Defensive pressure started to tell halfway through the 3rd quarter with Bami Olukayode taking some fantastic steals and converting at the other end. A great drive and finish along the baseline from Mia Symes saw Ireland leading 71-27 at the end of the third.
With suffocating ball pressure from Karyl Martir and Dara Diggin still dominating the boards, chances were at a premium for Scotland in the last. Great transition scores from Shauna Dooley and Bami saw Ireland run out victors on a scoreline of 83-34.
Ireland Top Scorers:
Hazel Finn: 14 points, 5 steals
Sarah Hickey: 12 pts, 13 rebs
Shauna Dooley: 12 pts, 8rebs
Ciara Mulleady 10pts, 9 rebs, 5stls
Karyl Martir: 8pts, 7stls
Ireland U15: 57
Scotland U16: 49
The Oriam in Edinburgh was buzzing ahead of the game between Ireland U15 and Scotland U16. Led out by captain Síofra O’Shea, Ireland looked to push the pace early. Opening the scoring with a fantastic backdoor cut and finish, Lauryn Homan had the fans on their feet. Some excellent defensive pressure, including two steals and breakaway scores from Kara McCleane had Ireland take a 12-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Scotland’s offence soon began to turn it up a notch and had Ireland on the ropes. A huge jump shot from captain O’Shea follow by two free throws from Caoimhe Masterson steadied the nerves and held the scoreline at 20-15. Despite the excellent defence from Eva Moloney and Anna Grogan, Scotland’s offence kept ticking over. Banking in two three-pointers and hitting another from the corner in the last four minutes of the quarter saw Scotland take the lead and go in at half time up 27-20
With the first half nerves out of the way, the Irish team came out of the dressing room ready for a fight in the third quarter. A quick six points from Eva Moloney had Ireland rolling and some stifling interior defence from Sinead Boyle had Ireland on a quick 9-3 run. Minute by minute the girls turned the intensity up and gave Scotland nothing easy, with Kate Rochford inspiring the rest of her team on the defensive end. A step-back jump shot from Siofra O’Shea saw Ireland regain the lead 31-30 with 4.50 to play. Two huge back-to-back three pointers with a steal – which seemed to defy the laws of physics - in between from Kara McCleane saw Ireland take a 39-38 lead at the end of the third.
A huge score from Sarah Corbet and some immense defensive pressure from Laoise Walsh and Sinead Boyle had Scotland struggling to start the fourth. A 5-2 run sparked by superb play on both ends of the floor from Mollie Heaney and Kelly Sexton saw Ireland extend a lead that they would not relinquish. Some intense pressure and focus on the defensive end from Lauryn Homan and Car McCleane saw Ireland run out winners, with a 15 point second half turnaround, on a scoreline of 57-49
Ireland Top Scorers:
Kara McCleane: 16 points, 9 rebounds
Lauryn Homan: 10 pts
Eva Moloney: 9 pts
Siofra O’Shea: 7 pts, 6 steals
Kelly Sexton: 6 pts, 8 rebs, 3 stls
Ireland U15: 82
Like the previous two games, Ireland came out and started the game with great intensity and pressure. Emma Mullins opened the scoring with a great layup while Sabhbh Edwards-Murphy instantly made herself known to the opposition early, ripping away offensive rebounds and getting to the free throw line. Despite a great start to the game for Scotland offensively, it was some great defence from Ciara Byrne that kept Ireland close as Scotland went in at the end of the first up 18-17.
It felt like Ireland couldn't buy a basket in the second quarter but some phenomenal offensive rebounding from Fatimah Akorede and captain Lisa Blaney, meant Ireland were getting second and third opportunities on almost every possession. Soon after, Blaney made a great move down the lane and finished to take the lead for the first time, followed up by a great dish to Akorede on the next possession. Stifling defence from Mollie Heaney allowed Ireland get out in transition and go on an 11-6 run. A beautiful assist from Kate Rockford to Robyn Malone for a quick score and more superb defence from Anna Grogan saw Ireland take a 36-34 lead at half time.
Once again, with the first-half nerves out of the way, Ireland came out and put in a staggering third quarter performance. Full court pressure and steal after steal after steal from Ciara Byrne saw Ireland race out into a quick 12-point lead, forcing a Scotland timeout. This would be to no avail as the Irish girls smelled blood and wouldn't let up. Kate Hickey, playing with an injured hand, was a woman inspired on both ends of the floor, with her energy and aggression inspiring her teammates around her. Emma Mullins added to Scotland’s turnover woes as she took two of her three steals in the quarter. The introduction of Caoimhe Masterson and Sarah Corbet saw Ireland clamp down even more on the defensive end and continue their staggering dominance on the offensive boards (Ireland would finish with a total of 45 offensive rebounds). Ireland held Scotland to two points for the whole quarter to finish up by 60-36 and all of a sudden everyone could breathe and enjoy the fourth.
If the 3rd quarter wasn't enjoyable for Scotland at the offensive end, the fourth quarter was a misery for them defensively as Ireland rained down hell from the three-point line. Ellen Ryan hit a rainbow three off an assist from Robyn Malone. This was followed by Ciara Butler hitting a long three - her first of two in the quarter - off some great ball movement. Then, Anna Grogan hit a beautiful step-back three from the wing, which meant that there was only one player on the squad yet to register a score for the weekend. We wouldn't be waiting long as Mollie Heaney made a beautiful curl off a screen from the top of the key and finished with her left hand over two defenders as her parents, the whole crowd and the team all cheered wildly.
There were some emotional scenes late in the fourth as the introduction was made of two injured members of the squad who checked into the game to earn their first international caps. Shauna Russell and Sinead Keane were allowed stand still (and not move) and shoot it as soon as they caught it. Shauna duly obliged and narrowly missed a three. This was followed by Sinead almost giving the coaching staff and her parents a heart attack as she interpreted “don’t move” as “attack the basket and try to finish over people in traffic”.
A superb second half performance all around saw Ireland run out winners on a scoreline of 82-46, to crown off a hugely successful weekend for the squad.
Ireland Top Scorers:
Ciara Byrne: 16 pts 6 stls
Sabhbh Edwards-Murphy: 16 pts, 7 rebs, 4 blks
Lisa Blaney: 8 pts, 11 rebs, 5 ast
Fatimah Akorede: 7 pts, 11 rebs, 5 stls, 3 ast
Ellen Ryan: 7 pts, 3 rebs, 3stls