IT Sligo 54
The AIT Ladies basketball team endured heartache in their all-Ireland final against IT Sligo.
Despite a few players being unavailable, confidence in the AIT ranks was high going into the match, with a nine game winning streak behind the team.
AIT started with purpose. Early scores from Katharina Sucic and Bridget Gleeson helped settle them into the game. Although combating taller players, Bridget and Katharina were dominating the boards on the defensive end, limiting IT Sligo to one shot opportunities.
Sinead McDermott and Clodagh Brennan were not letting AIT have it all their own way as they helped settle their team into the game with a succession of drives to the basket. The first quarter finished AIT 15 to IT Sligo 12.
The second quarter continued in the same fashion as both teams clamped down on the defensive end and scoring opportunities were at a premium. Bridget Gleeson, who was causing the Sligo team major difficulties, suffered a game ending ankle injury early in the second quarter, which seemed to galvanise the Sligo team, as they continued to attack the boards.
Ali Fagan provided the offensive impetus for AIT, as she hit three big outside shots to close the half. The second quarter finished AIT 21 to IT Sligo 28.
AIT picked up the intensity at the start the third quarter. Quick passing led to easy scores from captain Emma Fagan, as she exploited the room afforded to her. Amy Mc Teggart added a quick brace of scores to help reduce the deficit.
The quicker pace was not suiting the visitors as they struggled to keep up with AIT. The third quarter finished AIT 31 to IT Sligo 34.
Unfortunately for AIT, the final quarter saw them concede numerous fouls and afforded IT Sligo easy opportunities from the free throw line to maintain the lead. Ilaria Gandini, Hayley Jones and Symone Donnelly were introduced to add much needed energy in the last few minutes, but AIT could not close the gap and IT Sligo ran out winners on this occasion.
Reaching an All-Ireland final is an amazing achievement, and this season still must be acknowledged as a remarkable success for AIT Ladies. Craig Sheriff and Alan Jennings have done a fantastic job in coaching and guiding this team to the last stage of the competition.