RECAP: Ireland U20 women v Croatia
The Ireland U20 women travelled to Croatia at the weekend for a two-game test against the hosts.
The team, who are in the final stages of preparations for their 2019 FIBA U20 Women’s European Championships in Kosovo, faced the hosts on Saturday and Sunday.
Ireland U20 Women’s Results
Saturday, July 6th
Croatia 75-45 Ireland
Sunday, July 7th
Croatia 74-64 Ireland
Ireland U20 Women’s Detailed Results
Ireland U20W: 64
Ireland Under 20 women lost out by 10 points in their second clash with Croatia on Sunday morning, but put in a superb performance overall.
Opening scores from Enya Maguire put Ireland up 4-0 as the women in green got off to a much brighter start than the day previous, however Croatia punished hard from beyond the arc with a deep three – and this would be a constant theme for them in the first quarter as they knocked down four three-pointers in the period. At the other end, Sorcha Tiernan found Rachel Huijsdens inside and it was Huijsdens again with the offensive tip to see Maggie Byrne put away an easy two and help Ireland into a 17-12 lead with eight minutes gone. A 6-0 run from the hosts followed and they held a slender 18-17 point lead at the end of the first.
Maguire again opened the scoring for Ireland in the second, hitting home a fantastic three. Croatia went back to the paint with some strong post moves, while a big defensive rebound by Amy Dooley and quick outlet saw Maguire go coast to coast for a quick two. This quarter saw Ireland continue to work hard on the boards with Ali Blaney converting with a reverse layup following a Huijsdens offensive tip. Byrne stretched the Croatia defense with a long two to keep the scoreline within one or two points. It was Blaney in the paint with a tasty floater towards the end of the quarter but a pair of free throws from Croatia saw them reduce Ireland’s lead to one point at the half, 32-31.
An opening score by Huijsdens inside kicked off the third quarter, but Croatia’s fine shooting continued with another three. A big hustle play from Annaliese Murphy got the bench off their feet but Croatia continued to punish with their strong shooting form. Both teams forced turnovers throughout, but Croatia started to pull away in the third, always finding the free player. A big three-point play by Huijsdens and a steal/jumper combo by Tiernan saw Ireland close the gap just before the break, to trail 53-43.
Ireland opened the fourth with a solid score by Tiernan courtesy of a strong screen by Huijsdens. Dooley continued to be a threat on the offensive boards, working hard and getting rewarded at the free throw line. Croatia began to feel the pressure and called a quick timeout to adjust. Louise Scannell caused problems with her dribble penetration and jumper but Croatia’s outside shooting was a constant thorn in Ireland’s side. Amy Murphy reignited a late run for the women in green with a powerful drive and score, but the hosts held strong to win out by ten in the end.
“It was a much improved performance today - the girls really stepped up their defense and the intensity was amazing,” said head coach Martin Conroy afterwards. “We got away to a great start today, and got into a rhythm. We got confidence from that. Our defensive intensity today was brilliant, we got 32 points from forced turnovers, which was fantastic. The team work today – everybody chipped in in some way. That was great and that’s what we’ll take from the weekend, we improved. After yesterday’s game we were all a bit deflated, and a bit fed up that we hadn’t played as well offensively as we could, but we knew that we could compete with that team and for long periods of today’s game we were right there. There’s nothing but positives to take out of this weekend.”
IRELAND: Ali Blaney (10), Enya Maguire (17), Annaliesse Murphy, Sorcha Tiernan (13), Rachel huijsdens (11), Louise Scannell (4), Amy Dooley (1), Maggie Byrne (4), Amy Murphy (4)
The Ireland U20 women lost out the opening game of the two-game series this evening on a final scoreline of 75-45.
The Irish kicked off the scoring early on through an Amy Murphy free throw, but an opening three-pointer from Croatia set the tone for things to come. Some lovely shooting by the home team really set the pace, while some triangle inside out play between Enya Maguire, Rachel Huijsdens and Amy Dooley resulted in a well-earned two. Croatia’s sharp shooting continued throughout the quarter and, despite some important defensive rebounds by Huijsdens, Ireland found themselves down 24-7 at the end of first.
The second quarter saw Croatia put more emphasis on their inside scores and some early turnovers meant Ireland couldn't climb back early. Ireland's hard work ethic soon paid off, however, with some defensive stops reaping rewards and Huijsdens added a tasty baseline jumper off the end line play to close the gap. A corner three by Annaliese Murphy and a shot clock violation helped Ireland get closer and closer, however foul trouble for the Irish saw Amy Murphy and Amy Dooley pick up their third each and the resulting free throws edged the hosts ahead 29-16. Sorcha Tiernan found Enya Maguire in the later stages for an open three but despite a much-improved quarter, Ireland trailed 35-21 at the half.
An exchange of baskets at the start of the second half kept the game ticking over early, while Maggie Byrne came up big with some important defensive tips, boards and a big hustle play resulted in an Annaliese Murphy fast break layup. Ireland missed some easy finishes in the third but a big inside drive by Amy Dooley kept the fire going, and Ireland finished the quarter down 56-32.
The fourth quarter was neck-in-neck as both teams went back and forth. Ali Blaney and Louise Scannell continued to distribute the ball to find Ireland open in the wings but some costly turnovers by the team resulted in easy scores for the hosts. Croatia finished the game strong though with some strong inside scores and ran out the quarter winners 19-13 to win the game 75-45.
IRELAND: Ali Blaney (2), Enya Maguire (9), Annaliese Murphy (5), Sorcha Tiernan (6), Rachel Huijsdens (4), Louise Scannell, Amy Dooley (8), Maggie Byrne (3), Amy Murphy (8)