Two basketballers from Portlaoise Panthers are shining for the Ireland U-18s who have qualified for the European Championship quarter finals.
They made it four wins from four games and secured their spot in the last eight in Dublin last night with a huge 63-49 point win over Great Britain.
Claire Melia and Maeve Phelan, both from the Portlaoise Panthers club, are both involved with Monasterevin native Melia captaining the side.
Before last night, they beat Macedonia 79-43 on Friday and followed that up with a shock 84-46 win over Slovak Republic on Saturday. They then beat Moldova 116-25 on Sunday.
The girls in green never doubted the result from the off as they oozed confidence from the tip off and drove into a 19-6 lead by the end of the first quarter.
Claire Melia, Bronagh Power Cassidy and Rachel Huijsdens led the scoring early on, with Melia later going on to bag another double-double (her third of the tournament) by the final buzzer.
Louise Scannell and Power Cassidy kept the momentum going through the second, with huge defensive displays across the board from the Irish, with Power Cassidy, Dayna Finn and Maeve Phelan in particular working hard on the British guards to keep them at bay, while Melia was on hand under the boards to get vital rebounds to lead 37-23 at the half.
Another huge performance in the third quarter saw Power Cassidy bring her tally to 13, with Melia making the stats spin once more with huge rebounds and assists and kept her position as a firm favourite with the fans with hard work at both ends of the court to finish 51-30 to the good at the end of the quarter. Strong defence in the fourth quarter of a tough and physical contest ensured Ireland ran out deserving 63-49 point winners in the end and book their spot in this weekend’s quarter-finals.
Tommy O’Mahony’s side have now topped Group D with just one game left to play against Ukraine tonight.
The knockout stages begin on Friday. There are 24 teams competing in four groups of six in what is the ‘B’ grade championship.
The top two in each group go through to the quarter-finals with the remaining playing off in classification games for 9th to 24th position.
All the games are being streamed live by FIBA, the sport’s governing body, and can be watched here.
Ireland take on Ukraine at 6.15pm tonight.