It was one, as they say, for the purists as Trinity Meteors overpowered and outgunned DCU Mercy to secure their spot in the Irish women’s cup final
If you like teams that bring the bigs well was this the game for you as both DCU and Meteors leaned heavily on double-big line-ups to start things off. For Mercy it was Hannah Thornton (6’1”) and Rachel Huisjdens (6’3”) squaring off against Trinity’s Claire Melia (6’2”) and Celena Taborn (6’3”). The first three all know each other well from the Irish national team set-up while Taborn was a rarity as the lone import on the roster for Meteors despite the league permitting two on the floor at any one time.
The current strength in depth of the Irish women’s set-up in the front court, particularly at DCU, has enabled clubs more creativity when picking their American options. In Lindsey Abed (Hartford) and Tyra Johnson (Cumberland) the North city side had been able to go with two guards as their options with Abed being able to operate in a swing role. Not that Trinity exactly had to worry about its back court with Ireland regular Dayna Finn running the point.
This game had, unsurprisingly, a physical opening frame. Abed’s three followed by a great finish on a fastbreak by Johnson levelled things at 15 apiece late in the quarter.
Meteors were the first to switch to keeping just the one big on the floor and Melia found more room inside as the extra mobility of the Trinity line-up forced DCU to give up space and enable more straight up one on one battles for her. When Taborn came back in, it was a direct switch for Melia and she encountered similar circumstances albeit, due to significant strapping, without possessing the range of movement of Melia.
DCU eventually made the switch, giving Thornton the break first but it was Glanmire showing more range in what was, truthfully a tough game to get invested in for the casual observer. Now, bosh, bang, wallop freaks like me could enjoy it but my tastes in hoops are unusual. Melia stretched the lead to 13 as DCU struggled to do anything offensively.
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If Mercy were going to make any kind of contest out of this in the second half, they needed to get their back court going to open up the floor a bit. A mid-range two from Nicole Clancy gave some signs of life, only for Finn to hit the sweetest of strokes from deep to extend Trinity’s lead to 14.
Finn kept going, scoring three more on the inside in quick succession to just beat up a Mercy side and this one felt done with 17 minutes still on the clock.
The fourth was purely academic, rather apt given the sides involved, but the lack of invention from the side that clearly needed it more was a disappointment. The predictable nature of DCU’s half court O, meant there was never a real sign of a fightback coming. Meteors meanwhile will prove formidable against Killester as the south city club seeks its first cup title since 1996.