Mustangs back in the saddle to reclaim Drogheda invitational title

Basketball

Joyous Mustangs after their victory in Drogheda Basketball Invitational last weekend:  Back row: Niamh O’Leary, Jenna Howe, Catriona White, Ellie White, Aedin Nic Flannchadha, Siobhan Kennedy. Front row: Ciara Griffin, Ciara Curran, Karen Mulherin (Captain), Siobhan Kilkenny, Sinead Hughes with top fans, Scout and Gracie-Bell Hussey and Realta and Faolan Loftus.

Joyous Mustangs after their victory in Drogheda Basketball Invitational last weekend: Back row: Niamh O’Leary, Jenna Howe, Catriona White, Ellie White, Aedin Nic Flannchadha, Siobhan Kennedy. Front row: Ciara Griffin, Ciara Curran, Karen Mulherin (Captain), Siobhan Kilkenny, Sinead Hughes with top fans, Scout and Gracie-Bell Hussey and Realta and Faolan Loftus.

The Mustangs troops set off on the long trek to County Louth last weekend for the Drogheda Invitational Tournament 2019.

The annual pre-season tournament is a valuable gauge for how pre-season training is working for the squad. On a busy weekend, a few guests were needed to beef up the Mustangs’ originals of Siobhan Kilkenny, Ciara Griffin, Sinead Hughes and Karen Mulherin. They were joined by reliable Aedin Nic Fhlannchadha, Catriona White, Ellie White and Siobhan Kennedy, as well as newbies, Niamh O’Leary, Jenna Howe and Ciara Curran.

The Drogheda Invitational features a super test of teams each year. This year’s tournament included a total of five women’s teams, including Drogheda Ladies, Muckno Ladies (Monaghan ), Midleton Ladies (Cork ), Fabplus Northwest (Donegal ) and Mustangs (Castlebar ). The competition consisted of each team playing all the other teams in the group, which resulted in four games on the Saturday. The top 2 placed teams then played the final on the Sunday.

First up to challenge Mustangs was the Donegal side of Fabplus. This is a women’s national league division one side, playing to American players. Mustangs had a tough challenge in this game, with successful perimeter shooting by the Donegal side and Mustangs and guests still getting used to each other. Mustangs - having gone down by 17 points at one stage in the game, closed the gap back to six under the expert tutelage of player coach Siobhan Kilkenny, only to lose the game on the final whistle.

The home side of Drogheda ladies was the next challenge for Mustangs’ gallop. Mustangs were now gelling better as a team and pulled away comfortably, winning this game with some lovely three point shooting by Aedin Nic Fhlannchadha. With one win and one loss, Mustangs had two more battles to complete in the group war. Next up was Muckno Ladies, an experienced side at the Intermediate nationals. Mustangs dug deep both defensively and offensively and won this game by a point when the final whistle was blown.

The last game of the evening was against a youthful Midleton side. The game was close at times but Mustangs’ experience gave them a comfortable win in the end. With three from four wins on the day, this placed Mustangs second in the group and into the final on Sunday against Fabplus from Donegal.

Sore bodies togged for the final Sunday. Smart play from the Castlebar side had taken them to this final under the stewardship of Kilkenny (a leader by example ). Sinead Hughes roasted opposition players, Ciara Griffin deceived opposition teams with her runs, almost flawless free-throw shooting by Catriona White, three point shooting by Aedin Nic Fhlannchadha, intelligent gritty play by Siobhan Kennedy, Ellie White following in her mother’s footsteps with determined winning attitude and the skills and energy of Jenna Howe, Ciara Curran and Niamh O’Leary - were all a victorious combination. The final was a game in which Mustangs’ trailed in the early stages but managed to gain control by half time, leading on a scoreline of 21-28. Mustangs outscored the Donegal side again in the second half and the final tally was 47-35 in favour of the Castlebar side.

The tournament organiser, Colin Doheny, awarded the winning trophy to captain Karen Mulherin, followed by MVP presentation to player coach Siobhan Kilkenny, saying Kilkenny was the undisputed recipient for the award for, not only her on-court display, but also her consistent determination to get her and her team mates over the winning line.

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