Feb 19 2024

Mercy College Sligo prevail in All-Ireland Under 19C Girls Schools League thriller against St. Joseph’s

A breath-taking All-Ireland Under 19C Girls Schools League Final that went to triple overtime saw the Anna McDaniel-inspired Mercy College Sligo prevail 50-46 in the face of a monstrous challenge from St. Joseph’s Spanish Point SS in the National Basketball Arena on Monday.

In what was a real tug-of-war, it was St. Joseph’s who edged the first quarter by two, Isabel Horgan netting a score for them five seconds before the buzzer.

Six points from game MVP McDaniel in the opening eight minutes ensured Mercy remained hot on their heels.

And that pressure continued as Clodagh Barrett, Xena Morgan and Clara Reynolds also got in on the scoring act for the Sligo side, who were looking to add this prize to the All-Ireland Schools Cup they raised last month.

Four points apiece by Ellie Hanrahan and Karine O’Leary in the second quarter was just about enough to see St. Joseph’s maintain the narrowest of advantages heading into the half-time recess.

A bright start to the third quarter for Mercy saw McDaniel, Morgan and Barrett all convert attempts to nudge their side three-points in front, only to see O’Leary drain two delightful buckets from well beyond the arc to help leave Spanish Point 29-28 in front heading into the final quarter.

Hanrahan and Isabel Horgan demonstrated great defensive intensity for St. Joseph’s, but McDaniel was still causing them trouble from the perimeter, and with just under four minutes to go, the two sides were deadlocked at 35 points apiece.

Sarah McDaniel converted one of two free-throws before Barrett hit a deuce to put Mercy three up, but O’Leary and Horgan levelled it up again when they went to the free-throw line, effectively forcing overtime.

Mercy attacked relentlessly over the initial three minutes of added time, but Anna McDaniel’s bucket was cancelled out by Sophie Nagle down the other end of the court, leading to a second phase of overtime.

Converted free throws by Barrett and Sarah McDaniel nudged Mercy two points in front before Horgan levelled it up yet again to bring about a third phase.

Niamh Miller went to the line to put St Joseph’s a point up, but Anna McDaniel came up big for Mercy, demonstrating huge strength to power in for a basket before repeating the act seconds later.

A massive steal by Clara Reynolds led to yet another bucket for McDaniel and, this time, there was no way back for St. Joseph’s as their Sligo rivals lifted the prize much to the delight of their huge following.

“That was just unreal” said Mercy College head coach, Louise Harte. “We had to dig so deep. There was just so much not going our way.

“Spanish Point are a cracking team. They took everything out today and, for me, it’s the most emotional I’ve felt in a long time since I played myself.

“We’ve been grafting for this for 20 years and once you do the double you just realise that you are the best at that level where you compete, which, for us, is Under 19C.

“All this is helping to bringing basketball alive in Sligo and that’s just great to see” she smiled.

Quarter Scores: Q1: 7-9, Q2: 16-17, Q3: 28-29, Q4: 38-38, OT1: 40-40, OT2: 44-44, OT3: 50-46

Mercy College 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 (23), Clodagh Barrett (13), Xena Morgan (8)

St Joseph’s Spanish Point SS:

Clodagh Mescal, Ellie Hanrahan, Abi Kelly, Emma Talty, Katie Meade, Isabel Horgan, Sophie Nagle, Grace Cahill, Karine O’Leary (Capt), Aimee McNamara, Aoibhinn Mescal, Niamh Miller

Head Coach: Nicola O’Leary

Top Scorers: Isabel Horgan (14), Karine O’Leary (13), Ellie Hanrahan (8), Sophie Nagle (8)

MVP:  Anna McDaniel (Mercy College Sligo)