Jan 17 2024

McDaniel drives Mercy Sligo to victory over Naas CC in All-Ireland Under 19C Girls Schools Cup showpiece

Anna McDaniel lit up the court with a brilliant 31-point performance that drove Mercy Sligo to a 44-26 point victory over Naas Community College in Wednesday’s All-Ireland Under 19C Girls Schools Cup title match in the National Basketball Arena.

Naas were finding it difficult to shackle McDaniel from the off as the indisputable game MVP accounted for all, but four, of the 17 points that Sligo put up in the opening quarter.

Scores from Eva Langan, Masie Ryan and Ellen Gregg kept Naas in it, and a huge bucket from outside the arc by Leah Kelly just ahead of the buzzer, brought the Kildare side back to within eight points of their opponents.

Scores were at a premium in the second quarter, as Naas managed to get some sort of a handle on McDaniel, confining her to a bucket from the floor and a point from the line in that eight-minute spell.

Meanwhile, the Kildare side was able to put up scores from Kitty Ryan, Amy Neilan and Masie Ryan to reduce their arrears to five (20-15) by the halftime recess.

Leah Kelly drew first blood for Naas in the second half, but a 12-point run for Sligo, that featured baskets for Clodagh Barrett and McDaniel off lightning-quick attacks, pushed their lead out to 15.

Langan served up a much-needed three for Naas, but Hazel O’Brien responded with a deuce down the other end to leave her side 13 points up with just one more quarter to play.

Naas needed everything to click at both ends of the court if they were to find a way back into contention, but they continued to struggle with their opponents’ physicality under the boards.

The sheer pace and ruthlessness of McDaniel was also undermining their efforts to stem the tide as she, along with Barrett, tagged on another two baskets to re-establish a 15-point cushion for Mercy.

Naas, to their credit, continued to battle and Ryan and Kelly landed another couple of scores, but that was quickly answered by three buckets from who else, but McDaniel, to propel Sligo comfortably over the line.

“Anna, with 31 points here today, she’s just a phenomenal athlete, but I have to emphasise that this is real team effort, because the others open up that space for her” stressed Mercy Sligo head coach Louise Harte.

“In the second quarter Naas came back at us, but once we got back to the high-tempo game and played our own game, we were able to take control again.

“We’re probably five to ten years trying to get here, with Covid and everything.

“We’ve been to quarter-finals and semi-finals, but we’re nearly 15-20 years without an All-Ireland, so this just means so much to the school” she said.


Quarter Scores: Q1: 17-9, Q2: 20-15, Q3: 34-21, Q4: 44-26


Mercy Sligo:

Aoibheann Schmidtmeier, Clodagh Barrett (Co Capt.), Kayleigh Walsh, Poppy Garvey, Sarah McDaniel, Anna McDaniel, Xena Morgan (Co Capt.), Hazel O’Brien, Emma Lineen, Clara Reynolds.

Head Coach:  Louise Harte

Top Scorers: Anna McDaniel (31), Clodagh Barrett (6), Xena Morgan (3).


Naas Community College:

Amy Power, Katie Maguire, Amy Neilan (Co-Capt.), Kitty Ryan, Marina Suillmaine, Ellen Gregg, Sophie Lawler, Eva Langan, Masie Ryan, Leah Kelly (Co-Capt.), Mar Wall, Vakare Grybyte.

Head Coach: Chris McNairney

Top Scorers: Leah Kelly (8), Eva Langan (5), Kitty Ryan (4), Masie Ryan (4).


MVP: Anna McDaniel (Mercy Sligo)