NUIG Mystics claimed the InsureMyHouse.ie Women’s Division One National Cup, following a 68-35 win over Griffith College Templeogue at the National Basketball Arena. The County Galway club led from start to finish and were deserved winners. Courtney Cecere was awarded MVP after her 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Hazel Finn also caught the eye notching up 14 points and 9 rebounds.
Five points from Alison Blaney got NUIG Mystics off to a good start, before a couple of Jah-Leah Ellis free throws finally got Griffith College Templeogue on the scoreboard in the fourth minute. As the Dublin club struggled with their shooting, NUIG Mystics pulled away. Four points from Aoife Ryan and it was 13-2 with a little over two and a half minutes to go in the first. A three point jump shot from Kara McCleane and Mystics were in control, leading 21-4 at the end of the first quarter.
It took Griffith College Templeogue 12 minutes to finally get a field goal, Akeema Richards landed it, to trail 25-6. A Finn jump shot and a long range three from Courtney Cecere saw NUIG Mytics stretch their advantage to 30-6 three and a half minutes into the quarter. Griffith College tried to keep themselves in it, Amie Tunnah scored four points in the quarter, including the final basket, to trail 42-14. A 10 point haul from Finn, sister of Ireland international Dayna Finn, in the second quarter proved instrumental in building NUIG Mystics’ sizeable lead.
Hazel Finn had 14 points and nine rebounds in win over Griffith College Templeogue.
Lynn Tunnah, who’d been kept scoreless in the first half, finally got off the mark early in the third quarter to cut the lead to 44-18. However, consecutive threes from Cecere and Sara Messler for NUIG put more daylight between the sides, making it 52-18 three and a half minutes in. Tunnah landed a three point jump shot a minute later and it was 54-23. But Mystics continued to control proceedings and were 62-27 ahead at the end of the third quarter.
Siobhan O’Neill scored eight points in the final quarter for Griffith College Templeogue, including four at the start, to make it 62-31. It was a low scoring quarter, Maedhbh O’Brien downed a three point jump shot for NUIG Mystics with a little over two minutes to go, to extend their lead to 68-33. It would finish 68-35, after O’Neill’s jump shot in the dying seconds.
Speaking afterwards Paul O’Brien, NUIG Mystics head coach, said: “It’s great, they’ve worked so hard all year, one to fifteen, we have fifteen players in our squad. Only 12 could tog out here, but everyone has given all they have all year, it’s really, really great.
Asked about Courtney Cecere, O’Brien added: “She was great, they all were. She made some big shots in the second and third quarter to push the lead out, but Hazel Finn was great, offensive rebounding of the ball, she scored quite well as well and defensively everyone played nicely, so really happy.”
Forward Áine McDonagh, who had nine points and six rebounds, was elated in the aftermath. “We all just appreciate it so much, we’ve all tried for the past year, we’ve put in such hard work and it’s a real collective team, so it was amazing to do it with this bunch of girls.”
“Every single game we have someone else stepping up for different games. Obviously we had Courtney stepping up huge today winning the golden ball, Hazel (Finn) as well, so every single girl can step up at different times and the scoring is always shared between everyone, which is great. It’s amazing to have Paul (O’Brien) as coach, he’s such an experienced coach and he brings such knowledge to the team and we just all love feeding off him.”
Asked what the next step for the team might be, McDonagh added: “Hopefully I think we’ll try to get to Super League, hopefully with the league, if we can push on from here. Obviously it’s huge to get this win and we’re just delighted and hopefully we’ll just keep going this year.”
Griffith College Templeogue - Siobhan O’Neill and Akeema Richards (both 8), Lynn Tunnah
NUIG Mystics - Courtney Cecere (15), Hazel Finn (14), Aoife Ryan and Kara McCleane (both 8), Lynn Tunnah (7)
Griffith College Templeogue: Berta Rodriguez Carrera (4), Cliona Máirtin (0), Lynn Tunnah (7), Lauren Darcy (0), Aoife Whelan (0), Hannah Murphy (0), Joanne Mahon (Ni Mhathuna) (DNP), Jah-Leah Ellis (4), Akeema Richards (8), Kaitlyn Miley (0), Siobhan O’Neill (8), Amie Tunnah (4).
Head Coach: Mark Byrne
NUIG Mystics: Hazel Finn (14), Aoibhinn Walsh (0), Kara McCleane (8), Laura Lopez Morera (0), Alison Blaney (5), Maedhbh O’Brien (4), Áine McDonagh (9), Ava McCleane (0), Courtney Cecere (15), Aoife Ryan (8), Sara Messler (5), Maggie Byrne (0).
Head Coach: Paul O’Brien