RECAP: Ireland Under 20 Women storm into European semi final
August 08, 2019
The Ireland Under 20 women’s team stormed through to the FIBA U20 Women’s European Championship Division B semi-finals this evening thanks to a thrilling 66-53 point win over Croatia.
The win sees Ireland top their group in Round 2 and advance through to Saturday’s semi-final where they will face Bulgaria at 3.30pm Irish time, with promotion to Division A and a medal all up for grabs.
Despite what the scoreline may suggest though, this game was neck-in-neck right up until the fourth quarter. The lead changed hands 20 times throughout the game in a pulsating and absorbing contest. Ireland had heroes across the floor, with a superb team display on defense shutting down the threats of Croatia’s sharpshooters Andjela Katavic and Karla Erjavec to see them score just a combined 13 points in the game. With stand out performances across the court, some of the key performers for Ireland included Enya Maguire, who finished with 11 points, three rebounds, two steals, two assists, Claire Melia who notched another double double of 10 points and 12 rebounds, Sorcha Tiernan was also a stand out with 12 points, while Dayna Finn top scored with 20 points. Rachel Huijsdens, Annaliese Murphy were also key players in an all round superb display while there was superb work from Maeve Phelan, Maggie Byrne, Amy Dooley, Alison Blaney and Louise Scannell.
It was the fourth quarter where the game was well and truly won though, as the sides were level 14-14 at the end of the first, Croatia led 27-29 at the end of the second, while Ireland had just edged ahead at the end of the third, 49-46. A massive three pointer from Tiernan got the scoring underway for the Irish in the fourth quarter and this, followed by huge boards from Huijsdens, set Tiernan up for another score moments later to see Ireland suddenly ahead 55-48. The momentum was firmly in Ireland’s favour as Dayna Finn drove inside for two, while superb work from Maeve Phelan sent Melia through to the basket. Another huge three-pointer from Tiernan followed and it was game over, as Ireland powered through the remaining minutes to win out in thrilling fashion, 66-53.
What an evening in Kosovo— Basketball Ireland (@BballIrl) August 8, 2019
Massive thank you to all from @dfpo for coming down to support the team and to all of the families and friends who are cheering on the squad every step of the way.
Semi final Saturday awaits #COYGIG #FIBAU20Europe #GreenShoots pic.twitter.com/CnqmIotfnJ
Rewinding back through the quarters and it was a game that was full of small margins. Melia, Maguire and Tiernan were all on target early on, while Blaney, Byrne and Scannell all put in huge work on the defensive end to ensure Croatia worked hard for every single score. Scores from Finn and a huge three from Maguire closed out the quarter for the Irish to see the sides level at 14 points apiece. Nothing separated the sides in the second quarter either. Big work from Amy Dooley, and huge boards from Melia in the face of a very tall and physical Croatian side kept the game in the balance as the lead changed hands repeatedly throughout the period. Annaliese Murphy put in a huge defensive quarter, while Maguire and Maeve Phelan had some big hustle plays down the stretch to edge Ireland ahead. A massive score from Scannell, along with great baskets again from Melia and Tiernan saw Ireland hold a one-point lead, but a huge half court buzzer beating three from Croatia saw them into a 27-29 point lead at the half.
The third quarter continued in the same vein, with Phelan and Melia combining well for a fantastic score, which Croatia – again – had a response to. A massive basket from Finn, followed by scores from Maguire and Huijsdens followed to keep the game all level. Defense continued to be the winner for the Irish as their intensity and pressure kept Croatia on their toes, while a massive basket from Annaliese Murphy and a great score from Maguire closed out the quarter to see Ireland into a 49-46 point lead.
The fourth is where Ireland really stepped up a gear, with the defensive intensity reaching another level and provoking Croatian turnovers. Tiernan dazzled in this quarter with some superb scores, while Finn and Melia finished off some great moves to send Ireland further into the lead. A key three-pointer from Tiernan stretched the lead out even further, and with Croatia tiring, Ireland’s pace and determination saw them finish out in style, 66-53, with a spot in the semi-final safely secured.
Speaking afterwards, head coach Martin Conroy stated: “It’s fantastic. The turnaround from yesterday’s game to today just shows the character in this team - they’re absolutely phenomenal. Their work rate on defense today was phenomenal, we knew if we hung around up to the fourth quarter we could take this team. We hit a huge three in the corner – I think we were nine up at the time – and Sorcha hit a huge three to see us up 12 and that really killed off any chance of Croatia coming back into the game. They’re now into a second semi-final in three years, it’s an unbelievable group of athletes and we look forward to Saturday now.”
REACTION: Ireland U20 women’s head coach @ConroyKojack reacts to an incredible win at #FIBAU20Europe that seed Ireland through to the semi finals baby!!!! #COYGIG #GreenShoots pic.twitter.com/gyuLdqHNTi— Basketball Ireland (@BballIrl) August 8, 2019
IRELAND: Alison Blaney (1), Amy Dooley, Amy Murphy (inj.), Annaliese Murphy (3), Claire Melia (10), Dayna Finn (20), Enya Maguire (11), Louise Scannell (5), Maeve Phelan (4), Rachel Huijsdens (4), Sorcha Tiernan (12), Maggie Byrne.
Ireland U20 Women’s Result
Game 2 Round 2
Ireland 66-53 Croatia
WATCH BACK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7RP_AAL9vM