Fresh from winning the Lonleitros Basketball League title Western Warriors were deservedly crowned Top 4 Cup champions over the weekend in Edgeworthstown in an epic battle played by two fine teams; Western Warriors and Torpedoes from Longford.
In the Semi-Final top seeds Western Warriors played 4th place Mayo Masters on Friday night in The Mall, Longford. This was a tough tactical game from start to finish. Masters are a well-drilled group of players ably coached by Terry Kennedy (former NUI Mystics coach). The Masters team boasts a host of ex-national league players and certainly had the experience in big games to stand to them. Both teams gave it their all, with a spot in Sundays final up for grabs, this game was decided on who wanted it the most. Although Warriors had beaten Masters on their two previous encounters, this game went to the wire and ended Warriors 62 – Mayo Masters 55.
In the other Semi-Final, local rivals Longford Falcons played Longford Torpedoes in a tight game played in Edgeworthstown. This game was a good battle and Torpedoes edged their near neighbours by 4 points in the end to book their spot against Warriors in the final.
Warriors and Torpedoes were very familiar with each other having played against each other twice already in the league. The first encounter saw Warriors win well. However, the second encounter proved to be an nail biting game with the looking like it was going to be a draw, Torpedoes snatched victory on the buzzer to win by a single basket to deny Warriors a clean slate in the league.
The scene was set for Sundays battle and the game was played at a ferocious intensity in front of a large amount of vocal supporters. Torpedoes got out of the blocks the quickest and Warriors found themselves on the back foot in the first quarter. Torpedoes have a number of reliable three point shooters and they put on a shooting display to thrill the local supporters. Warriors battled away at their lead and kept in touch throughout thanks to smart defence and some clever offensive moves. Going into the last quarter, Torpedoes held a two point lead. However, tough defence curbed Longford’s threat and good finishing from the free throw line ensured a Warriors comeback. In the dying minutes Warriors took the lead for only the second time in the game and showed massive composure and self belief to run out deserving winners. The support for the Warriors team was thrilled and their were fantastic scenes of jubilation after the final whistle.
The icing on the cake was the award of (Most Valuable Player) to Emer Healy on a fantastic offensive performance. Ruth Kelly accepted the Cup on behalf of her teammates – a just reward for the teams heroic efforts and achievements throughout the season.
The Western Warriors players would like to thank their family and friends for the support displayed throughout the season and also would like to thank their sponsors Gardín Bia and Damien and John in their home court of Strokestown Sports Hall, also Jackie Wallace for giving up her time to do table officiating for our home games. They also extended a special thank you to coach extraordinaire Anne Marie Gunn, whose words of wisdom settle the Warriors throughout the season.
The basketball season has now ended and most of the girls will revert to playing club and county football and camogie for the summer. They will look forward to getting back on the court to defend their title in early September.
Emer Healy (Ballinameen), Jenny Higgins (Frenchpark) , Martina Freyne (Frenchpark) Sheila Gunn (Elphin),Carmel Donelon (Carrick), Ruth Kelly (Ballinameen), Danica Lavin (Frenchpark), Sandra Shanagher (Kilbride), Michelle Jordan (Strokestown), Siobhan Conroy (Boyle), Ciara Ryan (Roscommon) Aideen Kearney (Boyle)