Trinity Meteors was crowned Basketball Ireland Division 1 league champions this afternoon after they comfortably prevailed 80-65 against Team Tom McCarthy St Mary’s in a final where so much was at stake.
A loss this afternoon, coupled with their devastating cup final defeat last January, would have left this season with little redeeming memories despite a near-flawless record throughout the season.
Everything went according to the script, however, and any doubts over the quality of this Trinity side were proven groundless. The star trio of Edel Thornton, Lauren Grigsby, and Carolyn Binder were instrumental in seeing their team’s season-long goal of promotion to the Super League become a reality today – the three combined for 59 points in the 80-65 victory against St Marys in Leixlip.
From the outset Meteors looked in control, coming into the game with a confident energy. Indeed, they had every reason to have high hopes, given their recent blistering streak of wins. Despite this, there was also cause for caution – St Mary’s had handed Trinity one of their only two losses earlier in the year.
Meteors were all buckets in the first quarter, quickly jumping out to a 9-4 lead with two early three-pointers from Grigsby. Following a score by Kate McDaid while being fouled, St Marys was forced to call a timeout.
Coming out of the break Thornton kept their momentum going with a dazzling dribble through the lane, weaving in between several defenders before scooping in a layup. A three by Sarah Kenny, followed by some flawless free throw shooting from Grigsby and Kenny saw their lead go up to 14 points.
However, if the first quarter was a scoring onslaught – Meteors sank 27 points – the second was far more subdued. Their shooting cooled off significantly, allowing St Marys to creep back into it. Kenny was not hitting the mark from outside. Meanwhile, scores from Emma Sherwood and Loraine Scanlon for St Marys saw the Meteors lead narrow to five points.
Fouls were costing Meteors as St Mary’s frequented the line, allowing them to eat into the deficit without the clock winding down. The half ended with the Meteors only scoring eight points in the second quarter, and just one point separating the sides at the break.
The third quarter was gritty as both sides sought to take control. St Mary’s took the lead for the first time since the first quarter after a three by Sherwood. Meteors bounced back quickly – Thornton dropped a great dime pass to Grigsby under the hoop for an easy bank shot. The pair hooked up again, with Grigsby making a sharp backdoor cut before receiving a bounce pass from Thornton for another easy two points.
The three-point shooting began to re-emerge for the Meteors late in the quarter, with Binder coming through with a pair of shots from beyond the arc. Yet the score remained close with the fourth quarter still to play – just five points separated the sides going into the final period of the match.
Meteors stepped onto the court for the fourth quarter with fierce determination to close it out. Thornton and Grigsby led the charge, with Thornton knocking down a three from the top of the arc to start it off. Then, after a tenacious defensive rebound by McDaid, Thornton received the outlet and galloped up the court on the fast break before handing it off to Grigsby. The latter calmly dropped in a second three-pointer. Just like that, Trinity found themselves up by 10 points.
The Meteors supporters erupted when Grigsby made yet another three to make the score 60-47 – a psychological blow for St Marys, who faced an uphill battle if they were to recover this late on.
Meteors kept their run going, sprinting to the finish line: Thornton scored another smooth three-pointer, Kenny knocked down a close-range jumper and McDaid secured the dagger with a close-range score off the glass and the foul.
The margin continued to widen as the Meteors continuously went to the line and were consistent with their free-throw shooting. St Marys appeared deflated, committing fouls in frustration.
As the clock winded down, Meteors anxiously awaited their time to celebrate. On the final buzzer, the team rushed over to coach Vinnie O’Keefe in celebration, their 80-65 victory and champion status confirmed.
Back to the Super League is now the fate for the Meteors. Speaking after the match, Katie Kilbride, a veteran of the club, spoke of what promotion means for her and her side: “It’s been a tough couple of years, we’ve had a lot of new people come in and out, obviously Vinnie has come to the squad which has been a huge help, we’ve had some great Americans in obviously.”