When the wild Mustangs met the wild Rovers

Basketball

The Mustangs and the Wild Cats after the final.

The Mustangs and the Wild Cats after the final.

The last weekend in May saw Mustangs saddle up once again for the Dublin Masters 2018.

The Mustangs competed again with a modest seven players for the weekend, suitably accompanied by Dublin masters newbies Ciara Griffin and Derval Coyne.

With 16 ladies' teams competing in the masters, Mustangs were grouped with Cork, Tolka Bers, and Dublin Lions.

In their first clash of the tournament, playing Cork, Mustangs were slow to get their rhythm and it was not until the fourth quarter that Mustangs pulled away with Siobhan Kilkenny scoring 16 points and guest player, Claire Corcoran, racking up an impressive eight points, the final score line was 37-26.

The second group game was against Tolka Bers, a Dublin based team who fought a tough game but could not match the skills of Mustang players, with player-coach Siobhan Kilkenny on 20 points and Ciara Griffin on nine points, and these two Mustangs alone had outscored the other team with the final score line an impressive 45-18 in favour of the Mustangs.

The third and final group game of the day was against the home team Dublin Lions. Mustangs were after their third win but Dublin Lions were fighting to remain in contention for the silver/plate finals on the Sunday.

However, it was not to be for the home side as Mustangs had found their stride and they ran home on a score line of 49-23 with all seven players for Mustangs contributing to the final tally and Susan Rowland on a super 16 points.

And so Mustangs had qualified themselves to the gold semifinal for topping their group and set up a challenge against the Edinburgh team, containing ex Scottish international players. Edinburgh were the firm favourites in this contest, having successfully reached the final on the last number of occasions they travelled to the Dublin Masters.

With nothing to lose, Mustangs went to battle and Claire Corcoran opened the scoring for Mustangs followed swiftly by seven points from Siobhan Kilkenny, and despite the height on the Scottish side, Mustangs only trailed at the end of the quarter by a single point on 11-12.

However the second quarter was won by Mustangs with Kilkenny hitting two three-pointers and tallying a massive 11 points for the quarter and the half time score read 23-20 to Mustangs. The third quarter saw a renewed battle from the Edinburgh side and it was scores from Ciara Griffin that kept the Castlebar side in contention at the end of the third quarter when Mustangs now trailed by two points.

And the spectators who had planned to leave the venue earlier were now transfixed by what was unfolding in this semifinal encounter. And their curiosity was well rewarded by the Mustang display, most especially player-coach and captain, Siobhan Kilkenny.

She was constantly under attack from the Scottish side, with two players trying to contain Kilkenny at times. However, they could not deal with the speed, strength, and skill of Kilkenny, and with one minute to go and Mustangs up a mere point, it was indiscipline from the Edinburgh side that sent Kilkenny to the free throw line twice in that minute and when Kilkenny sank all four, Edinburgh’s fate was sealed, and Mustangs were through to the gold final against four in-a-row winners, Wild Rovers (a team consisting of all ex-Irish international players ), with Mustangs winning by five points on a score line of 38-33.

Word travelled very quickly to the gold final venue, Oblate Hall in Inchicore, that Mustangs had beaten the challenge of the Edinburgh side and Mustangs got a warm welcome on arrival at the sports hall, with spectators delighted to see a new side contesting the final.

From tip-off the game saw end to end movement before the opening score and it was Mustangs' Sheila Cunningham who scored the opener for the underdog side and half way through the first quarter Mustangs were up 9-4 with some excellent free throw shooting from Siobhan Kilkenny and Karen Mulherin. With a renewed push and substitutions from the Wild Rovers side, the favourites got back on track and led the quarter by 15-11.

The second quarter saw a tied competition with 14 points from both sides and Rovers maintained their lead by four points again. The third and most damaging quarter for the Mustangs saw the Rovers gel together most impressively and perhaps a little tiredness was visible for the Castlebar side.

The Mustangs never gave up the battle right to the final whistle and though they won the final quarter, it simply was not enough to take the final crown from the now five in-a-row winning Wild Rover side.

Siobhan Kilkenny (Mustangs ) and Lindsay Peat (Wild Rovers and Irish rugby international ) were awarded joint MVPs (most valuable players ) with Kilkenny finishing on a final tally of 22 points (and a 20 points game average for the tournament ) and Peat on 10.

Mustangs: Siobhan Kilkenny, Derval Coyne, Ciara Griffin, Claire Corcoran, Karen Mulherin, Susan Rowland, and Sheila Cunningham.

Mustangs are most grateful for all the support during the final and indeed preceding matches and all the well wishes and congratulations that have been pouring in since the final. It is much appreciated. The Mustangs posse take flight for Santander in northern Spain this weekend for the third International Santander Masters.

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