Unbeaten in the league this year, Maree came into the Division One women’s final as favourites. Early on the weight of expectations didn’t look to be affecting the Westerners as they settled early with good scores from Claire Rockall and Dayne Finn. Elks though came into the game with confidence having pushed Maree close earlier in the season. The opening minutes saw both teams trade baskets as they settled into the game and at the midway point of the first the Elks led by the narrowest of margins 11-10. Jenna Kaufman was having success inside and was proving a difficult matchup for Maree as they maintained their one point advantage to the end of the first. The second quarter was hugely positive for Patrick O’Neill’s team as they exploded to life in the first five minutes. Aoife Callaghan was shooting well from the outside as Elks raced into an eight point lead with just four minutes to go in the first half. The experience of Maree showed late in the first half as they went on a crucial run led by Catherine Connaire and Dayna Finn to tie the game at 41 points apiece going into halftime.
The momentum of the game continued to swing back and forth in the third quarter. As Maree initially took control Maree answered with a huge 9-0 run behind three consecutive three pointers from Enya Maguire and Aoife Callaghan as the Elks stormed into a 53-48 lead. Any thoughts that Maree would lay down though were answered emphatically by Dayna Finn as she came up with a number of big plays to regain control for Maree. A big inside move by Kollyns Scarbrough was met with a transition score for Finn and the game was finely balanced heading into the final quarter as Maree led 62-59.
Tension was building in the fourth quarter as both teams were making big plays defensively. Maree had opened a five point lead and were threatening to open a lead before Seana Harley-Moyles hit a big two pointer to reduce the gap. With five minutes remaining a huge and one play by Elks American Kollyns Scarbrough narrowed the gap to just two at 68-66. Scarbrough then struck again just a minute later with a huge assist to tie the game. Looking for someone to take control of the game, Maree found joy through former Super League player Fiona Scally who had a huge three point play to give Maree a three point lead. Scarbrough wasn’t done yet though and yet another and one by the Elks American tied the game yet again with just three minutes remaining. As the game reached the closing stages Claire Rockall and Dayna Finn took control with eight points that gave them a six point lead with just a minute to go. Aoife Callaghan wasn’t going to go down without a fight and a huge three pointer by the Elks number 10 had the lead back to just three. After a miss by Elks Catherine Connaire controlled the crucial rebound and nailed two free throws to seal Maree’s first Senior women’s National Cup on a scoreline of 82-76.
MAREE: Carol McCarthy (5), Dayna Finn (29), Claire Rockall (16), Orlaith Walsh, Maggie Byrne (6), Catherine Connaire (13), Nicola O’Connell, Eveann Kennedy, Alison Blaney (4), Clodagh McGrail, Laoise Walsh, Sacra Mannion, Fiona Scally (9)
ULSTER UNIVERSITY ELKS: Enya Maguire (5), Erin Maguire (7), Seana Harley-Moyles (6), Kollyns Scarbrough (18), Jenna Kaufman (10), Nichola Rafferty (2), Aoife Callaghan (26), Ruth Neil, Erin Bracken, Eimhear Morris, Alex Mulligan (2), Abigail Rafferty
MVP: Dayna Finn (Maree)
Source: Galway Bay FM