The drive for five is still alive as Glanmire saw off a game Brunell to book their place in the Irish women’s cup final. Emmet Ryan reports on a tougher than expected win for the four-time defending champions at the Mardyke
They all count no matter what way you get a W. Glanmire weren’t expecting a cakewalk against Brunell but the fight put up by the side in red, and how long they stayed in the game, would have caught casual observers by surprise. With Glanmire seeking a fifth straight cup title, it was easy to write this one off as a bump in the road.
Instead, it was a thriller for the guts of the game as Brunell frustrated their more decorated rivals for long stretches before eventually going down in a tight affair.
The first quarter took a while to open up but when it did both sides were more than happy to stand and trade punches. Having been a cagey affair through the opening minutes, with neither side terribly pushed about probing the inside or attempting to stretch things out, Brunell upped the tempo substantially and Glanmire were more than happy to trade blows with them. For the defending champions, this was a more than appealing situation with a slash-happy line-up and plenty of shooters. The underdogs however hung well with them through the end of the first quarter only trailing by the minimum.
The question for Brunell however was endurance. Glanmire have a wealth of options on the bench and Mark Scannell was switching early and often in ths one, happy to give his veterans rest and introduce the under 18 duo of Annaeliese Murphy and Louise Scannell. The duo, who were both part of Ireland’s silver medal winning squad the the FIBA U18B championships last summer, offered solid spells and enabled Glanmire to maintain their pace.
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Fortune was smiling on Brunell still as Breanna Bey’s effort at an offensive rebound ended up going in, an inadvertent putback but they all count. Francis O’Sullivan on the Brunell bench was riding his luck and it was keeping his side’s noses in front. Looking to rest bodies as often as the furious pace being set by Scannell, O’Sullivan knew he didn’t have as many reliable options but if those he had delivered his side might be able to ward off the attrition game.
Brunell briefly opened up a double digit lead through Madelyn Ganser and memories of the clash at the same stage last year surfaced. Brunell had come out in that one like a house of fire, holding a 20-9 lead at the end of the first and dominating Glanmire for 10 minutes before Gráinne Dwyer ripped them apart over the subsequent 30 minutes in what proved to be a comprehensive beatdown.
The red side of Cork didn’t want to see such energy go to waste this time and O’Sullivan kept the switches coming as Dwyer looked to provide an offensive spark on the other end. The tension however was clear on the Glanmire bench. Things were getting that little bit heated as Scannell let fly at his players in a timeout late in the half. A late three from Katy Keating woke the defending champions up but it was Brunell who held the lead, 41-37, at the break.
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A wide open three from Ashley Prim on the elbow midway through the third gave Glanmire back the lead as the champions looked to have got their mojo back. Now it was Brunell struggling on the 50/50 plays. Ganser slipped out of bounts trying to recover a wild Amy Murphy pass. Bey was called on the over the back foul on Dwyer as the American sought an offensive board that just wasn’t there for her. Then Casey Grace swatted away a weak effort at a floater from Amy Waters. The gap was only 3 points but normal service had resumed.
Glanmire ramped it up again and when Dwyer stretched the gap to 7, O’Sullivan called in his charges to try and restore order. Bey finally got the scoreboard moving again for the red side but Glanmire were happy to charge up the gut now. Scannell reintroduced Keating to force the pressure more in the paint. With 10 minutes to play, it was Glanmire in control 56-49.
Glanmire however just couldn’t make life easy for themselves. Bey kept probing and Scannell’s outbursts on the sideline pointed to the stress his side was forcing on itself.
Just when Glanmire needed it, Prim stepped up with another big three to give them some breathing room. Even with Dwyer fouling out, it was enough. The drive for for five is still alive.
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