The girls of St Paul’s, Oughterard ensured Galway secured one All Ireland basketball crown this season when they deservedly won the U19B Cup final on Tuesday.
The only Galway representatives in this year's Subway All Ireland Schools Cup deciders, St Paul’s of Oughterard overcame St Mary's Naas by 40-35 after a nervous start.
“Everything they were asked, they did,” said Oughterard's winning coach Diarmuid Lee. “We got into it in the second quarter after a nervous enough start, but it still could have gone either way."
Oughterard captain Emer Harte led by example to drain a three-pointer with her first shot of the game. However St Mary’s Naas went on a 7-0 run, featuring three baskets from Nicola Clancy.
Leading 7-5 for the first quarter, St Mary’s were 12-11 ahead midway through the second period after a fine basket from Eimear O’Neill and good work from Clancy at the top of the key. However St Paul's clamped down with man-to-man defence, coupled with some superb blocking and rebounding from Caoimhe Walsh.
The baskets soon followed for Oughterard's Seosaimhin Casey, and a bank shot triple for substitute Siobhan Casey put the St Paul's girls into a 19-12 lead at half time.
St Mary’s looked in real trouble when the run went to 12 points without reply in the third, but Ciara Friel landed an inside layup, and a great steal from Mary Creaton put them on their way to an 8-0 run.
With just a basket between the sides, Oughterard called a time out midway through the third, before taking a 29-26 heading into the fourth.
While St Mary’s needed a breakthrough, Oughterard were hanging tough on defence and getting more range on the outlet pass. It led to baskets on the fast break and an 8-0 run. But as St Mary’s crept closer, Oughterard took a calming time out with 30 seconds left, and it worked. With Sinead Heffernan putting her body on the line, Orlaith Walsh iced the game with a free-throw to claim this year's cup.
St Paul’s Oughterard Secondary School: Seosaimhin Casey, Emer Harte, Sinead Heffernan, Orlaith Walsh, Caoimhe Walsh. Substitutes: Caoimhe Fleming, Caoimhe Keogh , Siobhan Casey, Aisling Hanley, Martina McDonagh, Louise Kinnevey.
MVP: Sinead Heffernan