COURTYARD Liffey Celtics are the women’s Paudie O’Connor National Cup Champions for 2019 thanks to a 91-66 win over Singleton SuperValu Brunell at the National Basketball Arena, landing the honour for the first time.
Celtics were happy to set up shop at the three-point line in the opening quarter and rattled off five triples, three of them from 19-year-old Sorcha Tiernan.
The Ireland International managed seven points in the 2017 final as Celtics failed to halt Glanmire’s four-in-a-row campaign. Two years on, she had 19 points by half time.
“That loss hurts a little less now,” said Tiernan – the game’s MVP. “We’ve learned a lot in the last few years and we were ready for it today.
“We had the Under-18s win as well this weekend and I think I was more nervous for them.”
Brunell trailed 19-13 for the first quarter despite huge work rate under the boards from Madelyn Ganser, Amy Waters and Linda Rubene.
They had guile too as Danielle O’Leary showed with a deft bounce pass into Rubene for an easy layup. Tricia Byrne was their main scoring threat but couldn’t prevent Celtics building a 43-23 lead at half time.
There was always going to be a kick from Brunell. Cork’s sporting passion is part of what makes Cup weekend special and their fans deserved that.
They put up a 23-point third quarter as Simone O’Shea came off the bench for a rousing three-pointer, Byrne scored eight points and Rubene completed the game’s only double-double.
Karen Mealey protected Celtics’ double-digit lead in the fourth quarter and Ailbhe and Aine O’Connor ran themselves to a standstill. Having faced off against the Dwyers in 2017, they saw what it meant for sisters to win at the Arena. This is their time now.
Both sides have come a long way since facing off in a Division 1 League final in 2011. Celtics are now a Super League powerhouse.
Brunell have taken home a rack of underage trophies from Tallaght and Cork and Kildare have both contributed plenty of talent to the Ireland set up.
This was Brunell’s first shot at the big one.
They were just up against a side in the mood to prove that sometimes you do have to lose one to win one. It was the second highest tally by a winning side in women’s National Cup history.