Courtyard Liffey Celtics pulled off a dramatic comeback on Saturday evening to beat UCC Glanmire and secure the Women’s Super League title with three games to spare.
The Leixlip side trailed by 17 at the break but a remarkable surge in the third and fourth quarters saw them run out handsome 84-74 winners at the Leixlip Amenities Gym.
The win over third-placed Glanmire moved Liffeys nine points clear of DCU Mercy with three games to play and a superior head-to-head record, having beaten them home and away.
Mark Byrne’s side added a league title to their first-ever National Cup crown, ensuring this will be their most successful season ever regardless of the outcome of the play-offs.
And it was fitting that they sealed it with a win over UCC Glanmire, who pipped them in the play-off final last year and have been their most consistently tough competitors in recent times.
“They have been the team to beat, absolutely, over the last years,” Byrne told the Dublin Gazette.
“It’s brilliant that we clinched it against them because games between us and them have always been close, exciting games.”
They had to do it the hard way as they were overwhelmed by a highly motivated and highly accurate Glanmire side in the first two quarters of the match.
The Cork side landed a series of three-pointers to push out the half-time score out to 45-28 in favour of the visiting side.
The hosts made some tactical changes at the half and hit their stride after the break, with Sorcha Tiernan and Brianna Green starring with 22 points and 21 respectively.
“To win the league you have to be consistently the best, so there’s great satisfaction in that.
“But the aim of the play-offs is an exciting conclusion and brings the season to a nice climax.
“If you’re in it, you want to win it. We’ve had success in that two years ago and then heartbreak a year ago losing in the final.”
“It’ll be great to see if we can get back to the final and put right what went wrong last year.”
The only dampener was a late injury to American forward Green, who limped off in the fourth quarter with a leg injury that could keep her out of next week’s meeting with Fr Mathews.
Byrne had already planned to shuffle his team somewhat in the three remaining fixtures before the play-offs, but he is wary of upsetting the momentum of the group.
“We’ve only had ten on the squad this year and everybody has really contributed.
“Absolutely, there’ll be some people now putting their hands up for more playing time.
“We want to balance that with going into the top six play-offs with momentum.
“We don’t feel like we’re done yet.”