The Midland League basketball season drew to a close last weekend with a flurry of games at underage level in the Final Four competitions.
First into action were the U-12 boys who were drawn against League winners Kestrels in the semi final. The young lads put in great performances all round with Kestrels just about pulling away in the last quarter to win by 22 points to 14. Oisin Rice, Cormac Izuchuckwu and Sean Courtney were outstanding for Tullamore.
Next up were the U-12 girls who again had to compete with league winners Clonaslee in the semi final. The girls kept pace basket for basket with Clonaslee until midway through the third quarter when Clonaslee got a narrow lead. Unfortunately despite the best efforts of the excellent Kate Fox, Sarah Kehoe and Katie Guinan time ran out on their comeback.
The U-18 boys faced up to Portlaoise for the third time this season in their semi final on Friday night. Having only lost by a maximum of two points in their two previous encounters hopes were high that the boys in blue could turn the tables on this occasion. With the team ahead by seven points with three minutes left, it looked like a famous victory was on the cards. Unfortunately heartbreak was to follow as Portlaoise reeled them in to win by one point at the buzzer. The Tullamore club was nevertheless proud of the efforts of the team and coaches. Its never easy to lose by such a slim margin.
The U-16 boys also gave a good account of themselves on Saturday going down by 10 points against a strong Portlaoise side on Saturday. Commiserations to Coach Liam O hOistin and his team on their gallant effort. With all other teams suffering narrow defeats the U-14 girls team were in no mood to be complacent against the second Kestrels team in their semi final on Friday night. At the end of a physical encounter the girls ran out winners by 19 points to qualify for the midland final on the Sunday. Emily Bailey and Aisling Fox top scored with other notable performances from Muireann McDaid and Caoimhe Guinan.
The final took place in Portarlington against the home side. Although the girls tried extremely hard they never got into the scoring rhythm of Friday night and were playing catch up from the start. The majority of the team had played a regional schools final on the previous Wednesday and some had played a camogie semi final on the Saturday so tiredness had to be a factor. Eventually the final buzzer went on a scoreline of 39-21 to Kestrels. Emily Bailey and Aisling Fox again topscored for Tullamore.
After the game captain Rachael Dunne led her team up to receive league and cup runners up medals. The Tullamore U-14 girls have qualified for the All Ireland Club Championships this year. They are the first team from the club to play in this competition so they have brought great honour to the club. This competition will take place on April 14 and 15.
The season has not quite ended for some of our other underage teams as the U-13 boys, U-13 girls, U-16 boys and U-16 girls will play in County Community Games competitions shortly.
Heartiest Congratulations to the Sacred Heart First Year Team who won the regional final last week and commiserations to Colaiste Choilm 2nd years who lost the regional final by two points.
All results and fixtures on www.tullamorebasketballclub.com