U19A Girls All-Ireland Schools League Final
ARDSCOIL RATHANGAN…………………………………………………. 59
ST ANGELA’S CORK………………………………………………………… 38
By DAIRE WALSH
Claire Melia produced a masterclass at the National Basketball Arena on Friday, when Ardscoil Rathangan were crowned Under-19A Girls All-Ireland Schools League champions following a commanding 21-point victory over St Angela’s Cork.
The outstanding Melia had finished with 22 points for her school in the Under-16A defeat on Thursday, but courtesy of her magnificent 31-point haul, the MVP was hell-bent on ensuring that Rathangan wouldn’t be denied a second title in as many days.
Aine Nash also featured on the U16 team, and in spite of the short turnaround for both players, they never allowed their energy levels to drop throughout the course of the contest. Holli Dunne was also an effective performer for Ardscoil, and she opened the scoring with a terrific two-point effort after 30 seconds.
The pace of the play was relentless during the early exchanges, but thanks to strong defensive work from both sides, scores were few and far between initially. Alex Macheta’s superb three-pointer did open up the play somewhat, though, and despite conceding a free shot point to Angela’s co-captain Kelly Diggin, Rathangan regained the lead through Byrne and Melia scores.
The impressive Diggin restored parity for the Rebel outfit, before Melia responded in devastating fashion with six points in quick succession. Angela’s were struggling to deal with the influence that Melia was exerting, but a second three-pointer from Macheta did reduce their deficit to three (12-9) by the end of the first-quarter.
Melia continuing to be a thorn in the side of Angela’s, they created serious daylight on the scoreboard. She was on target with four consecutive shots at the basket, and thanks to another successful strike on 14 minutes, it meant that she had registered an astonishing 19 points in-a-row.
Macheta, Maireid Landers and Diggin did their best to halt this scoring spree, but following scores from Sinead Byrne (three) and Nash (two), Rathangan entered the half-time period with an encouraging 28-18 buffer.
Diggin added a free point to the Angela’s tally. This proved to be a false dawn for the Rebelettes, however, and with just four minutes remaining in the quarter, Ardscoil’s cushion had increased to 23 points.
Melia maintained her consistency with six points and she was ably-supported by Sinead Dunne’s four-point salvo, and a Byrne three-pointer.
With 21 points (47-26) now separating the teams, there was significantly less pressure on the shoulders of Rathangan for the remaining eight minutes of the game.
Rathangan continued to dominate, as Dunne and Melia enhanced their own personal scoring feats. Lenihan displayed her ability with four successive points for Angela’s, but with her first score of the outing, Eimear Byrne brought the curtain down on a magnificent afternoon for Ardscoil Rathangan.
Scorers – Ardscoil Rathangan: Claire Melia 31, Holli Dunne 10, Sinead Byrne 10, Aine Nash 4, Kelly-Anne Scully 2, Eimear Byrne 2. St Angela’s Cork: Kelly Diggin 16, Hayley Lenihan 9, Alex Macheta 9, Maireid Landers 4.
ARDSCOIL RATHANGAN: Holli Dunne. Claire Melia, Aine Nash, Sinead Byrne, Kelly-Anne Scully, Eimear Byrne, Dominika Sygnowska, Mary O’Brien, Aoife Carey, Alanna McLoughlin.
ST ANGELA’S CORK: Ciara Morrissey, Siuin Mannion, Jess O’Connor, Hayley Lenihan, Kelly Diggin, Ciara Dilworth, Alex Macheta, Maireid Landers, Andrea McSweeney.