National Basketball title for Coláiste na Carraige

In what was one of the most competitive games in this year’s All-Ireland Schools Cup series, Coláiste na Carraige managed to overcome St Andrew’s College 48-42 to clinch the Girls Under 16B prize in the National Basketball Arena on Tuesday.

This clash proved ferociously competitive right from the tip-off with the two sides deadlocked at 10-10 after five minutes of action, Scarlett Livingston proving St Andrew’s main attacking threat while captain and game MVP, Laura Boyle was inflicting the bulk of the damage for Coláiste na Carraige

And it was two baskets by Boyle late in the first quarter that saw the Donegal side carry a four-point advantage into the second period.

Saoirse O’Donnell and Boyle put up two baskets to put Coláiste na Carraige eight ahead of St Andrew’s, whose cause was not helped when Siofra Van Damme was forced off with an injury early in the second quarter.

But Matt Kelly’s side dug deep and three buckets by Livingston and a brace from Ruby Tilson hauled them back on to level terms at 20-20 with just over two minutes remaining before the break.

Coláiste na Carraige regained their poise, however, and Laoise McGinley and Boyle both drained buckets to see their side back in front by four at the half-time recess.

The Donegal team opened the second half with superb three from Boyle, before Abi Lyons also struck from beyond the arc at the other end to help haul St Andrew’s back to within two of their opponents.

But Coláiste na Carraige continued to remain just out of reach and a swift brace by O’Donnell, together with a score from Holly Kennedy pushed their advantage out to five by the time the third quarter drew to a close.

Yet St Andrew’s were far from done and Lyons delivered a massive three in the fourth to help nudge them a point in front for the first time since late in the opening quarter.

But just when it looked like they might be in the ascendency, Coláiste na Carraige served up crucial run that saw Sienna Campbell-Brooks hold her nerve to score at the second attempt on a swift counter attack and Laoise McGinley execute from the perimeter to ensure the cup would head to Donegal.

“We’re just absolutely delighted” said Coláiste na Carraige, head coach Simon Waugh.

“We know how good St Andrew’s are, we know how well coached they are, so we’re just delighted to get over the line against them.

“Our girls are highly-competitive. In first year they lost an All-Ireland semi-final and in second year they lost an All-Ireland semi-final, so to finally get over the line, it’s just great.

“These players are born competitors and they work really hard. They’ve lost just two games as a team since they came into the school three years ago, so they know what they’re doing” he insisted.

Quarter Scores: Q1: 14-10, Q2: 24-20, Q3: 39-33, Q4: 48-42

Coláiste na Carraige:

Saoirse O’Donnell, Emma Diver, Rionach Ní Eochaidh, Laura Boyle (Capt.), Sara Curran, Laoise McGinley, Holly Kennedy, Isabele Maguire, Cliona Cassidy, Ava Campbell, Sienna Campbell-Brooks, Lauren McCloskey.

Head Coach: Simon Waugh

Top Scorers: Laura Boyle (22), Saoirse O’Donnell (16), Laoise McGinley (4).