The Women’s National Cup staged another showcase of thrilling basketball of the highest calibre as Courtyard Liffey Celtics and Killester fought out a rare draw in the first leg of their quarter-final.
Both sides had reasons to be optimistic heading into the clash. Courtyard Liffey Celtics had home advantage and the boost of a league win over the same opposition. Killester had a couple of new recruits on board and time to get them settled in the run up.
Celtics for their part nearly had a new recruit of their own during the week – Dan Ewing of Home & Away fame wandered into the Leixlip Amenities Centre only to miss out on hooking up with Celtics for a scrimmage. The Aussie actor is a keen basketball fan and took to Twitter to express his disappointment at missing out.
Killester’s Head Coach Mark Grennell changed up the tactics for this one having learned much from the league defeat. Celtics are a physical side and dominated the paint back in October – on this occasion Killester drew on their perimeter shooting to open up a four point lead heading into the second quarter. If it was nip and tuck in the opening exchanges, it was duck and roll for Celtics in Q2.
Killester went on a run of 12 unanswered points including some mortars from outside by Rebecca Nagle – her team hitting nine three-pointers throughout. They were 16 points clear before the O’Connors could reply for Celtics. Ali Maguire nabbed a couple more before Killester went in at the break ahead by 14.
Robin Murphy and Olivia Lee kept the scoreboard ticking over to combine for 30 points on their cup debut but the star American belonged to the hosts. Meagan Hoffman refused to let Killester off the hook and hit a total of 31 points in inspiring the Celtics’ comeback. They ripped through the third quarter and held Killester to just three baskets in the fourth.
All that remained was the final leveller and one of the greatest Hail Mary’s witnessed in an Irish gym. There was one second left when Suzannne Maguire inbounded from half way. Celtics’ Shelby Smith picks up the story.
“It was a hell of a pass from Sue. Aine O’Connor turned and found herself wide open to hit a one footed floater. As soon as it left her hand, I knew it was good. The whole place erupted –It was wild! That’s what the cup is all about though, isn’t it?”