“WE ARE certainly going to celebrate this one,” Rebecca Nagle proclaimed as Pyrobel Killester ended a 15-year wait for the big one, the National Cup crown at long last.
A second half storm saw them land a memorable 82-59 point victory over Singleton SuperValu Brunell at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght.
American pair Adella Randle El and Christa Reed combined for a whopping 43 points in a superb display for the north Dubliners, while co-captain Rebecca Nagle chipped in 12 points from behind the three-point line.
“We’ve waited for this for a long time,” said Nagle afterwards. “Our last appearance in a final was in 2016 and it’s been in the back of our heads ever since. We knew we could do it. Credit to Brunell, they were amazing but I’m so proud of the girls.”
Head coach Karl Kilbride added: “We said before the game that defence was going to be the difference between winning and losing. We really knuckled down in the third quarter.
“We held them to six points and when we get stops it lets us get out and run and shoot threes in transition. It’s very hard to describe how I feel at the moment.
“It’s a great occasion for the club after a 15-year drought and after, an inconsistent first half, we finally got our act together in the second and I think we were worthy champions.”
Brunell did get off to a decent start with Sinead O’Reilly having an immediate impact on the boards while Laura Morrissey lurked with intent on the perimeter.
Reed – who finished the game with 23 points and the MVP ball – was on hand to deliver early for Killester at the other end, making her first four baskets to keep them in touch.
Nagle hit a go-ahead triple that ignited Killester’s offence though and a 10-0 run took them all the way to the end of the first quarter to lead, 24-14.
Brunell fought back, though, and were in front 38-37 at half-time courtesy of big moments from Alex Macheta and Aryn McClure.
But there was a sense that Killester had an extra gear though and as the third quarter got underway, it certainly ramped up a notched.
They retook the lead early in the third quarter, with Aisling McCann showing superb awareness in transition while Randle El drove through and racked up nine points in the period.
Brunell missed an open three from the top of the key and the punishment was severe – Reed went down the other end for an easy layup before Randle El forged a double-digit lead.
Ella McCloskey got busy on the offensive boards and made her free throws, while sharpshooter Michelle Clarke made her steal count with the layup and with Brunell visibly tiring, Killester’s tough defence began to win out and they led 60-44 going into the last.
An 8-0 run got Brunell’s bodhráns beating early in the fourth quarter as Clay opened with a layup before Morrissey and Greta Tamasanskaite knocked down three-pointers.
The volume of the Cork faithful was back at its customary levels, before Nagle prompted a storm of orange with seven minutes left.
Her corner three snapped Brunell’s run and gave Killester the confidence to see out the game and they did so in style, 82-59.