The first ever Irish Women’s Masters Basketball team finished their FIMBA World Championships in Finland in 9th place with 3 wins out of 5 games.
In very demanding playing conditions Ireland lost their first two games to Mexico and Finland with the Mexican game being a very physical and bruising encounter.
Mexico led by five points halfway through the first quarter, Ireland responded through Marla Candon who hit three big shots to ensure a 15-11 lead after the first quarter.
After a very physical second quarter, the sides were tied 30-all at the break.
Mexico started to show their physical presence even more with some big hits, however Ireland held on and battled through ensuring the sides were tied 45-all going into the last quarter.
This game looked like it was going to go down to the wire, however Mexico picked up their defence and got some nice scores to stretch the lead to 7 with five minutes to play.
Ireland reacted with free throws from the twins Grainne & Dee Tomlinson and a pair of free throws from Eileen Bradley but it wasn’t enough.
In the next game Finland made the better start with some impressive shooting but Ireland dug deep with baskets from Candon & Bradley.
The second quarter was better for Ireland with some outside shots while O’Keeffe, Bradley, Troy and Boylans efforts were also yielding dividends. The half ended 21-31 to Finland.
Finland stepped up a gear and the defensive pressure caused Ireland to turnover the ball.
Traynor and Lakes all saw the floor in this quarter and they acquitted themselves well. Finland’s shooting percentages were very high and this paid off as they increased their lead to 55-31 at the end of the third quarter.
Ireland pressed the Finns and this paid off causing numerous turnovers. The Tomlinson sisters, Grogan, Candon and Troy worked tirelessly up front and Bradley, O’Keeffe & Boylan pulled some big rebounds on both ends of the floor.
The Finns had the work done though and despite this, Ireland won the last quarter 18- 16, but Finland ran out 71-49 winners.
Columbia were next for the Irish and also seeking their first win.
The game was very tight in the first three quarters with Ireland leading by two points at the end of the first. Both teams traded baskets but Ireland edged a 32-30 interval score.
In the third quarter Ireland stepped up their defence to a big 3/2 zone which paid off and they ended the third quarter with a five point advantage going into the last quarter.
Ireland emptied their bench with everybody seeing court time and closing out a physical Colombian side by a margin of 10 points to take their first win in Irish history for a women’s masters basketball team at international level.
Ireland started the GB game by claiming a quick 7-0 lead with Bradley cleaning up on the offensive boards and Candon clinical from the floor.
GB rallied slightly, but with Dee Tomlinson running the fast break very well the first quarter ended 19- 7 in Ireland’s favour. The second saw more of the same and Ireland used their bench with Traynor, Lakes, O’Keeffe and Grainne Tomlinson entering.
Ireland hit a big percentage from the floor with Candon in fine form.
Defensively Ireland had their best outing and at the half GB trailed 34-15.
The 3rd was more of the same with Dee Tomlinson, Grogan and Troy combining well and Candon unstoppable.
Monerawela, Traynor and Bermingham all contributed well and Ireland despite a small rally from a spirited GB side, ended the third 46- 26 in front. Ireland continued to use its bench and Boylan, O’Keeffe and Bradley were excellent on the boards both ends of the floor.
GB had no match for Candon and the Tomlinson’s who worked tirelessly throughout. Monerawela,Traynor and Bermingham again contributed to the success eventually Ireland ran out convincing winners.