The fairytale continues! Ireland make history by booking place in European Championship final

It was another memorable night at the National Basketball Arena as Ireland’s golden girls beat Poland.

IRELAND DARED TO dream at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght this evening and it certainly paid off as they drove home to a historic and memorable 68-57 point win against Poland in the semi-final of the FIBA U18 Women’s European Championship Division B.

Ireland celebrate after the game The Ireland squad celebrate in Tallaght. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The promised land of Division A basketball is now on the cards for the team in 2018 — as they have officially been promoted for next year’s championships — as too is a coveted spot in Sunday night’s final in front of what is set to be another sell-out crowd in Tallaght.

This squad now have the unique honour of not only being the first Irish basketball team to reach a European Championship final, but to also play Division A basketball.
“It’s hard to believe. I’m lost for words,” coach Tommy O’Mahony said after a pulsating game.

“They were absolutely fantastic, especially when there was only four points in it down the stretch with a minute or two to go they stepped up, nailed some shots – it was absolutely fantastic.

“We lacked a bit of composure at times, we didn’t do what we were supposed to do on things, but we got them refocused in the second quarter and did a lot better job. I think they’re mature beyond their years out there and it’s a night that will live on in the memory for a long time.”

Louise Scannell celebrates after the game with Tommy O'Mahony Louise Scannell and coach Tommy O'Mahony. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Indeed, it was Poland who got the better of the opening exchanges as the girls in green struggled to settle their nerves.

The thunderous crowd at the National Basketball Arena were behind the Irish from the get-go and there was huge applause when Dayna Finn scored Ireland’s first basket.

Poland’s 5-0 scoring run halted momentum and they maintained their lead, 15-9 at the end of the first quarter.

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Ireland took back the lead two minutes into the second quarter, after a fantastic scoring run was finished off by Sorcha Tiernan’s pinpoint three, which forced the Polish to call a timeout and regroup. The emphatic roar of the Irish fans guided the team on and they led 28-23 at halftime.

Ireland celebrate after the game Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

There was a deafening roar when Dayna Finn weaved her way through the Polish defence and put Ireland ten points up as the third quarter ticked by, and both Claire Melia and Rachel Huijsdens made huge threes to hold on to a two-point lead going into the last.

The crowd were in full song when Louise Scannell came off the bench to make two huge scores in the fourth and though Poland matched them score for score, they began to have troubles of their own when their top scorer Julia Nielacna was fouled out.

In the end, it was destined to be Ireland’s day as they booked their place in the European Championship final on a scoreline of 68-57, with their opponents being decided on court at the NBA right now as Germany face Great Britain.

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History makers: Ireland U18 Women storm into FIBA European Championships semi-final

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