The Ireland U16 women lost out to Great Britain in a crucial pool game at the European Championships in Sofia. Both teams made an explosive start to the game with Great Britain asserting their dominance on the boards early. Ireland captain Hazel Finn controlled the play for Ireland as she set up and made scores to give her side the lead. Great Britain were led by Ella Doherty and Neve Marvill but the Irish pressure in the first forced many turnovers and gave Ireland a 15-9 lead at the end of the quarter.
The second quarter saw Ireland keep that same defensive pressure but Great Britain used the fast break to their advantage to draw fouls and pick up multiple scores from drives. Sarah Hickey and Kara McCleane and Sarah Hickey used their speed and agility to break through the Great Britain defence and set up scores for themselves and their teammates, as Ireland held a narrow 27-26 lead at half time.
In the third, Great Britain made a turnaround and reduced the number of turnovers per quarter. Thy stayed strong on defence and made a number of shots from beyond the three-point arc. Ireland replied well with scores coming from fast breaks courtesy of Finn and McCleane but Great Britain eventually forced turnovers on Ireland’s part and went into the final quarter, leading 42-48.
The fourth quarter was even throughout, with both teams making big shots and maintaining defensive pressure. Great Britain dominated the boards due to the height advantage possessed by their players. Poor free-throw shooting Ireland were unable to catch Great Britain on the break in an attempt to fight back at the lead and in the end fell short of victory 54-61.
After the game, Ireland U16 women's head coach Andy Gill said, "We really didn't execute what we wanted to offensively but positively, we out-rebounded GB and worked hard defensively in the half-court. We generated a lot of turnovers and a good win v Belarus tomorrow could see us into the top 8."
Ireland face Belarus tomorrow at 4:15pm Irish time in a must-win clash to determine their final group placing.
GAME 4 - TEAM AND SCORERS:
Sophie Moore, Sinead Keane, Sarah Hickey (7), Michelle Ugwah, Hazel Finn (22), Kate Kelly (5), Tania Salvado-McCormack, Kara McCleane (12), Miah Ryan, Paris McCarthy (4), Ella O'Donnell (4), Casey Mulvey.