BASKETBALL: Kildare's Liffey Celtics book final spot

Chance to clinch third piece of silverware this season

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BASKETBALL: Kildare's Liffey Celtics book final spot

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In the Women’s Champions Trophy last weekend, Courtyard Liffey Celtics and Singleton SuperValu Brunell dished up an absolute thriller in their semi-final battle in Carlow on Sunday, with Liffey managing to hold on at the death to win out 71-69 in the end.

The league and Cup champions were in control for much of the game with fine performances from Allie LeClaire and Sorcha Tiernan, but a stunning fourth quarter from Brunell (which saw them outscore Liffey 26-9) put the game right back in the melting pot. Time ran out on the comeback though and a relieved Liffey Celtics are headed for the final in a bid to clinch their third bit of silverware this season.

“It was a great game of basketball, it was really exciting," said head coach, Mark Byrne. "We knew the scoreline flattered us against them back in January. Today was really nip and tuck, we had a good lead in the third, but never felt that comfortable. We would have liked to have had an easier fourth quarter, but they have so many talented players so the game was never over. The season doesn’t owe us anything at this stage, this feels like bonus territory now. I can’t wait for two weeks' time and the final.”

Celtics will meet Fr Mathews in the final as the latter put in a dominant display in the second semi-final of the afternoon to overcome DCU Mercy 39-57. Stand out performances from Grainne Dwyer, Shannon Brady and Niamh Dwyer kept DCU to just 16 points in the first half, and despite some big plays down the stretch from DCU's Bronagh Power Cassidy, Mathews kept the pressure up to drive home to glory.

“That performance was coming, we got it right today," reflected head coach, James Fleming. "We played them two weeks ago and Sarah Woods and Bronagh killed us, but we upped our defense today. We’ve come a long way, but we haven’t won anything yet, it would be nice to finish by winning the Champions Trophy. We aren’t 18 points a better team than DCU, shots just didn’t fall for them today, so we’ve to keep our feet on the ground, Liffey are the best team in the country and we’re looking forward to it.”

In the Women’s Division One League Cup meanwhile, Maree and Ulster University Elks have booked their spots in the final to see a hugely anticipated rematch of the Hula Hoops National Cup final as they came through their semi-final clashes at the weekend.