Team Montenotte Hotel 71-65 DCU Mercy

Team Montenotte Hotel came through a high octane Women’s National Cup semi-final clash against DCU Mercy at Neptune Stadium on Saturday night.

Head coach Mark Scannell had lamented the lack of standout point scorers among his ranks in the lead-in, but watched both Grainne Dwyer and Aine McKenna break through the 20-point barrier in a 71-65 win.

“The shooting of Aine McKenna saved us out there tonight,” said winning captain Claire Rockall. “She’s been working really hard, but our offence came from our defence tonight. We stepped up the intensity and now we’re really looking forward to the final in two weeks’ time.”

DCU Mercy had their transition offense in working order to provide a couple of open court layups for Sarah Woods in a breathless opening quarter.

Team Montenotte Hotel upped the ante with a zone-press and quick fire baskets from McKenna and Grainne Dwyer gave them a 15-14 lead for the first quarter.

The lead changed for the eighth time after the 15th minute, but the tide was turning. Jessica Scannell was sprung from the bench to put her team in front and Team Montenotte Hotel were combining accuracy with intensity.

Niamh Dwyer’s steal to assist Marie Breen was part of a 10-0 run and by the time DCU Mercy got a handle on things, Team Montenotte Hotel had a 31-22 lead heading into the half-time break.

It was full throated and full speed ahead from the restart. Aine McKenna’s fast break led to a three pointer and with ten points between the sides DCU Mercy head coach Mark Ingle opted for a full court zone press as a last throw of the dice.

DCU Mercy captain Sarah Woods carried the fight with a steal and a score, but every Glanmire effort lifted the roof off Neptune Stadium and the comeback looked out of reach when DCU Mercy went to team fouls.

This game was a chess match and the Dubliners were in check.

Fionnuala Toner hit a couple of jump shots to narrow the cap to four, but with regular chances from the free throw line, the Cork women kept their rivals at bay.