The U19 Girls’ Basketball team of St. Mary’s Secondary School Edenderry have finished off the league in style after winning the U19 Midland League Basketball Final. The Edenderry side had been impressive throughout the group stages recording victories over Scoil Mhuire Clane (26-19), Oaklands CC (29-17), St. Conleth’s Newbridge (68-4) and Kildare Town CS (36-26) as well as an impressive semi-final win over Mercy Kilbeggan (49-20). On Wednesday 4th December in St. Mary’s Hall Portlaoise, the home of National League side Portlaoise Panthers, St. Mary’s faced off against a talented side from Athlone CC. Edenderry travelled with big support who made their voices heard creating a special atmosphere. Athlone started lively attacking St. Mary’s straight from the tip off. Both sides exchanged offensive possessions but neither could break the deadlock. It was clear that defence would have a huge influence in this game. ACC put the first points on the board from the free throw line, but the Edenderry girls quickly steadied themselves and through Ava Bennett and Angela Brady they went ahead on the score board. Aoibheann McAndrew pushed the pace of the St. Mary’s offence racking up a couple of assists. The second quarter saw St. Mary’s assert their dominance on the offensive end; Captain Avril Donegan with a couple of excellent scores from the corner stretching the Edenderry lead. Agata Drabik and Ashling Murphy stepped up the pressure on defence with Murphy coming away with a great steal that once again set up Angela Brady for another score. The teams entered the half time break with St. Mary’s leading 14-8. The third quarter was filled with some fantastic basketball. With Aoibheann McAndrew pulling the strings on the offensive end for St. Mary’s, it was Alicia Kavanagh who led the Edenderry defence. Time and again the Athlone attack was shut down by Kavanagh who racked up a number of steals as well as getting her name on the scoresheet. Athlone came out fired up for the final quarter with an excellent three pointer. Emma Norman helped shut down wave after wave of Athlone attack as Edenderry looked to hold ACC at bay. Angela Brady and Avril Donegan kept the scoreboard ticking over with excellent assists from Alicia Kavanagh and Agata Drabik. With a little over a minute to go it was just a one-point game, Edenderry leading 24-23. Edenderry came up with an excellent steal by Aoibheann McAndrew as they looked to attack again. With time running out Ava Bennett was sent to the free throw line as Athlone found themselves on team fouls. Bennett knocked down her 5th and 6th free throw out of 8 to give Edenderry a three-point lead with 7 seconds to go. Edenderry regained control of the ball as the crowd realised this one was in the books. Edenderry had won. The cheers from the crowd of supporters and team members went up with the final whistle. St. Mary’s were champions on a score of 26-23. St. Mary’s Edenderry Squad: Avril Donegan(Captain), Alicia Kavanagh, Angela Brady, Aoibheann McAndrew, Agata Drabik, Ashling Murphy, Emma Norman, Leah Callan, Megan Callan, Ruby Buckley, Ava Bennett, Rachel Holton, Chloe Smith, Rebecca O’Neill, Ella Donegan, Anna Doyle, Coach: Mr. David McEvoy. Assistant Coach: Ms Robyn Duke. The coach of the team Mr. David McEvoy paid tribute to the fantastic panel of 16 players who have put in huge effort so far this season to bring the Midland League Title back to Edenderry. He also thanked the excellent supporters who travelled to the game. The team will now advance to the Leinster Semi Final in the coming weeks.
Heart-breaking End to a Fairytale Season for St. Mary’s U19 Girls’ Basketball Team.
The 2019/2020 Season has been an extremely successful year for St. Mary’s Edenderry U19 Girls’ Basketball Team. Top of their pool in the league, Midland League Champions defeating a strong Athlone CC side in the home of the Portlaoise Panthers, travelling to Co. Monaghan to take on Ballybay CC in the Leinster Semi Final and booking a spot in the Leinster Final in the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght. From nearly 150 schools St. Mary’s were one of the final two. The 31st January 2020 would be the first time the school had completed in the National Basketball Arena since their U16 All Ireland win in 2004 and they would face a very strong Dominican College side who had overpowered last year’s champions from Coolock in their Semi Final. As the game began both teams were cautious with their attack, searching for a gap in the defence to get the best shooting opportunity. St. Mary’s had a number of early chances, but the shots were not falling for the Edenderry side. However, the South East Champions from Wicklow were starting to find their rhythm and after 4 mins St. Mary’s found themselves trailing 8 points to nil. A timeout and a reshuffle of their offence and St. Mary’s were on the scoreboard. Angela Brady and Aoibheann McAndrew provided some much-needed points. The Edenderry supporters began to find their voice rallying behind the team. The 1st quarter ended with Dominican College leading 13-6. The second quarter started with both teams exchanging scores, but Edenderry struggled to close the gap. Foul trouble saw several Edenderry players forced to the bench early. Ava Bennett and Captain Avril Donegan kept the scoreboard ticking over with two excellent scores. However, Dominican College started to pull away with Roisin Ring finding her range and with a minute to go they had stormed to a 22- 10 lead. St. Mary’s were not done yet. Aoibheann McAndrew, combining well with Alicia Kavanagh on a pick and roll move, stepped back to knock down a fantastic 3 pointer as the half time buzzer sounded leaving the score 22-13 and giving Edenderry the huge kickstart they needed. The second half was a different game. Edenderry came out fired up and determined to play their way back into contention. From the first whistle St. Mary’s pressed Dominican College and disrupted their offensive flow with Anna Doyle and Rachel Holton featuring strongly. The Offaly side started to attack the interior defence of Dominican College. Angela Brady, Aoibheann McAndrew and Chloe Smith putting points on the board for St. Mary’s. Multiple drives to the basket from Alicia Kavanagh drew fouls time and again which forced a number of Dominican College Players to the bench. By the end of the 3rd quarter the gap had closed, but only slightly; 31- 24. The final quarter began with chants from the St. Mary’s Supporters filling the arena. Edenderry upped the defensive pressure once more and they continued to attack Dominican College at every opportunity. A brilliant steal by Ashling Murphy in her own half, led to a fast break which she finished under pressure with a layup. With 4 mins left the scoreboard read Dominican College 33 St. Mary’s 28. It was only a 5-point game and it was game on. The South East champions struggled to deal with the pressure from the St. Mary’s Defence. Good work from Agata Drabik and Anna Doyle helped repel the Dominican College attack. Their outside shots would not fall and rebound after rebound was collected by Chloe Smith as Edenderry went on the counterattack. The defensive intensity put a number of the Edenderry players in foul trouble. Brady and McAndrew put 4 more points on the board and with less than one minute to go the score was now Dominican College 35 – St. Mary’s 32. Possession was exchanged numerous times in the final minute but neither team could get that vital score and with 9 seconds to go Edenderry fouled the Dominican College captain sending her to the free throw line for two free throws. If she scored one or both of her free throws it was all over. St. Mary’s called a Timeout and drew up one final play. Both teams took to the floor. Free throw one…Missed. A lifeline for St. Mary’s. Free throw two…The ball bounced off the ring and was rebounded by Edenderry’s Chloe Smith. The clock began to count down, 7 seconds left. Smith sprinted down the court and passed to Alicia Kavanagh who managed to sidestep her defender and get the shot off with 1 second to go. The ball bounced on the left side of the ring and then the right and then dropped out just as the buzzer sounded. It was all over, Dominican College had held on 35 – 32. For St. Mary’s it was a phenomenal comeback and a thrilling final quarter but unfortunately it was not to be. The Edenderry faithful continued to cheer for their team as they left the floor after what was a very gallant effort. The Coach of the team; Mr. David McEvoy, commended his players saying, “It was a fantastic comeback and the girls left everything out there and gave it their all and we are massively proud of them for that. Unfortunately, it’s not our day but this team has had a fantastic season and there was great support from students, staff and parents here today so thanks to every one of them. Huge thank you to Assistant Coach Ms. Robyn Duke for all her work this season as well as each one of the 16 players who gave their time and effort every week.” St. Mary’s Finish the Season as Midland Champions and 2nd place in Leinster. St. Mary’s Edenderry U19 Team: Anna Doyle, Alicia Kavanagh (VC), Emma Norman, Ashling Murphy, Ruby Buckley, Aoibheann McAndrew, Ava Bennett, Angela Brady, Avril Donegan (C), Agata Drabik, Rachel Holton, Chloe Smith, Leah Callan, Megan Callan, Ella Donegan, Rebecca O’Neill, Coach: Mr. David McEvoy, Assistant Coach: Ms Robyn Duke.