The Midlands Ladies Masters Basketball Team travelled to Kilkenny on Saturday to compete in their first ever Masters tournament.
Nerves were at an all time on the short journey to the marble city as the girls headed into four matches almost back to back.
Their glorious hosts Kilkenny Masters were efficient in the running of the match timetable throughout the day. In the first round the Midland ladies met with Dublin All Stars.
The Midlander’s had it all their own way in the first half as Dublin struggled to deal with the Midland fast break. However the tough Dublin side came back fighting and won the next two quarters. The Midland Ladies had just enough in the points bank from the the first half to see them win by a meager three points.
Less than an hour later the ladies took on a depleted Tralee side. Thankfully this meeting was an easy win for the tenacious Midlanders as was their third game against Cork. Cork’s bench however was large, so fresh legs on the court was obvious to see as the Midland ladies worked to beat their opponents by over 30 points.
Saturday’s games were coming to a close, fatigue was setting in and everyone was feeling the previous three games in their legs.
The last clash of the day the Midland ladies met with Clare. Both teams at this point were unbeaten but with Clare still having a game in hand, they came out of the blocks with vigour.
The Midland ladies were making uncharacteristic mistakes and Clare took full advantage of this by punishing the Midland side on both ends of the court. The Midlands stepped up their defence and it cost Clare three 24 second violations. The ladies took full advantage and clambered over the finish line with a 7 point victory.
With day one under their belt the ladies woke to a semi-final on Sunday morning and possibly a final in their midst. With exhaustion apparent from the previous day’s schedule they faced their opening Sunday game against Cork.
Having met in the round robin stage the Midland ladies hit the ground running from tip off and dominated the game assuring them a place in the prestigious final.
The final was a tough battle from start to finish with the lead changing hands numerous times throughout. Dublin yet again were strong under the boards at both ends of the court. Midlands struggled to break down the Dublin zone defence with every score in the final quarter potentially the winning basket.
Midlands finally found their range hitting some big shots down the stretch. It was a low scoring final but the four point win was extremely satisfying for the Midland ladies. Captain Pam Grogan picked up the winning trophy in their first ever tournament together. Deirdre Tomlinson played a big part in their unbeaten run and was awarded MVP for the final.
Captain Pam Grogan added, “Games aside new friendships were made an old ones reacquainted as being part of Masters basketball is almost like reliving your childhood basketball dreams surrounding yourself with people who have a common bond through sport and a game they love to play.”
“The weekend has renewed the love of the game for the all ladies, the journey however is only the beginning as the look forward to taking part in the Dublin Masters Tournament in May.”