Check out the video highlights from the opening weekend of the Irish national League featuring Donegal Town versus the Dublin Thunder and Portlaoise Panthers. Then read below for full game reports!
National Basketball League returns to Donegal
Saturday 29th September was an historic day for Donegal Town Basketball club as both their men’s and ladies competed in the national league division one. The ladies recorded an excellent victory over Portlaoise Panthers, the men on the other hand came up against arguably the best team in the land, and were soundly beaten by Dublin Thunder. The Thunder set up in 2011, made up of players from over 6 countries including student athletes from Dublin Business School. Saturdays game began with the news that due to injury and work commitments only eight players of their eighteen panel could travel to Donegal but due to administration issue’s beyond the clubs control only six of the traveling party could actually play.
Donegal Town 67 Dublin Thunder 103
This was a real case of David verses Goliath. All around the court Donegal were conceding inches in the match ups. Thunder raced into an 8-0 lead before Ryan Malley became the first Donegal player to record scores in the national league, sinking two hard earned free throws. Donegal settled down a little then with Dillon Muldoon making a couple of good inside plays to keep things tight. As Donegal collapsed their defense in an attempt to combat their much taller opponents Thunder put on an exhibition of outside shooting, recording three three pointers in a row to stretch their 1st quarter lead out to 29-10. Isaac Westbrooks was running the show for the Dublin side, controlling the tempo of the game and picking up assists and points at will.
The second quarter was a much more competitive affair, led by Paul McHugh the home team upped their defensive intensity, forcing numerous turnovers and using their superior speed to push the ball up the court. Twice Ryan Muldoon got to the foul line and converted 4 in a row, while the aforementioned McHugh chipped in with 8 points during the quarter. The Thunder played to their strengths, isolating mismatches inside, repeatedly taking the ball at their smaller opponents, stretching out their half-time lead to 52-31.
Dillon Muldoon and William Timoney kept the scoreboard ticking over in the third quarter, but defensively Donegal struggled to contain the outstanding Mike Goj, who scored 35 points in all. The fourth was academic; Donegal kept trying, Ryan Muldoon knocked down a couple of three pointers, Jason Duignan gave a glimpse of his potential, converting off a hard earned rebound, ultimately though they were beaten by a better team. After the game the Donegal Town club provided refreshments for both teams and once again proved to be great hosts. Coach Baker of the Thunder had positive words regarding both clubs ” This was a great occasion for both clubs playing our first ever national league game, I think our experience and long tough season last year will really stand to us this year. Donegal town like ourselves were short players tonight but we came out tough and after taking an advantage in the first we never eased up but all credit to the hosts they showed flashes of really good basketball and considering they have lost players combining they two we’re missing players did a credible job over the 40 minutes and never gave up” scores for us were very balanced except for a dominating offensive performance by Mike Goj who dropped 35pts. Darren “float gam”e Mc Govern played his first game for Thunder tonight after stepping up from midlands basketball with the Dundalk Ravens, he finished with an impressive 16pts, Over all we are delighted with the first game especially considering all the factors involved, now our focus moves to our first home game of the season against Kilkenny BC next Saturday night in the Carroll Arena Kilbarrack Dublin 5 at 8pm and we would love to see people attend. Donegal travel to Maree, Galway on Saturday in what should be a much tighter affair and a better indication of how their season will pan out.
Brittons Insurance Donegal Town 58 Portlaoise Panthers 41
Donegal sit proudly on top of the league following an excellent opening match against Portlaoise Panthers, a midlands selection in their first year in the league. Donegal’s superior squad proved the difference, with 10 different scorers. Donegal took control right from the off, with the vastly experienced Lisa McGill and Laura Deeney controlling the offense. Donegal’s additions through the structured link system were also making a difference with Katrina Coyle scoring twice at the close of the quarter leaving Donegal comfortably ahead 16-9.
The second was more of the same, Donegal dominated defensively and punished offensively. Libby Duffy’s rebounding was a feature of this quarter, giving Donegal a platform off which to build. National league new comer Clodagh Brennan stretched Donegal’s lead with a couple of impressive drives as Donegal stretched their lead at half-time to double scores: 32-16.
Portlaoise made a spirited fight back in the penultimate quarter, winning it 10-9. Julianne Murphy with 5 points was the home teams main offensive threat. In the final quarter Lisa McGill took over, knocking down to three pointers to really put the game out of sight. Brid Murphy also chipped in with a couple of inside scores as Donegal ran out comfortable victors. Coach Kevin Sinclair will be particularly happy with this victory, especially as it was achieved without the ever present Charlene McHugh, the first game she has missed in 6 seasons.
Reports courtesy of Donegal Town and Dublin Thunder BC.