Pyrobel Killester coach Karl Kilbride said his side’s remarkable fighting spirit left him “wrecked” as the club landed a place in the Hula Hoops Women’s Paudie O’Connor National Cup final.
They overcame Ambassador UCC Glanmire in a 82-79 thriller at Neptune Stadium, learning their lessons from harsh, heavy defeats at the hands of their opponents.
“I don’t even know how the girls feel but I am wrecked! I’m so proud,” he said in the moments after the win.
“We went down big early, we did it before against them and they killed us. We did it two months ago as well. I’m so proud we had the resilience to keep fighting and fighting.”
Crucial to the tie was how his line-up managed the skills of American pro Shrita Parker who landed 38 points for Glanmire. It helped them to a 26-19 lead in the first quarter and a 44-38 advantage at half-time.
With Adella Randle El, Christa Reed and Rebecca Nagle firing, the Dubliners pegged it back to a one-point game at 66-65 only for Glanmire to eke out a 70-65 lead with under seven minutes to go.
But Killester got to grips with her in the endgame and Aisling McCann nailed a perfect three-pointer to swing the tie their way.
“What a game from Parker!” Kilbride continued. “It wasn’t like we hadn’t prepared for her – we had but she was just great. As good as she was, for those last three or four minutes our team defence did it.
“Christa Reed was incredible to get us some baskets when we needed them. We didn’t want regrets – not taking shots, not boxing out – our defence was sensational. It allowed us to play with freedom, shoot a lot of threes and we don’t have regrets now. I’m delighted – so delighted.”
It puts them through to a final date with Singleton Supervalu Brunell who upset league leaders DCU Mercy 75-68 in the other semi-final.
The men’s final will be an all Dublin affair with DBS Eanna and Templeogue only having a short hop to make across the M50 to the National Basketball Arena in a few weeks time,
Templeogue shaded Coughlan C&S Neptune 78-75. Speaking afterwards, head coach Mark Keenan stated: “I’ve mixed emotions. I don’t think we played very well, but it’ll sink in soon that we actually won.
“Semi-finals can be games like that, you still have to try and win them, we found a way in the fourth quarter to get in front.
“Neil [Randolph] hit a massive three to put us in the lead and we got a lot of energy from that.
“I am delighted, I’m thrilled we got through, but we will need to play a lot better than that.”
For Eanna, they are continuing to live the dream in their first year back at Super League level as they booked their place in their first ever men’s cup final with a 78-63 point win over Garvey’s Tralee Warriors.