Utility Trust St Paul’s 64
Moy Tolka Rovers 55
Report: Enda Walshe
The double Southern Conference winners were back on home court last Saturday evening and it took a bit of time to overcome a gallant Moy Tolka Rovers side who came to Killarney determined to upset the title party.
They gave as good as they got for long periods but what was obvious was when St Paul’s put the foot on the gas, they found the pace hard to live with.
The hosts are in the limbo of having achieved their first objective while waiting for the main event but the games can also be used to fine tune team preparations and also get game time into the entire squad.
This, of course, is done against the background of keeping that winning momentum going and that was evident when the fat was in the fire. Not for the first time this season it was the third quarter that they made their move, opening up what was ultimately the match-winning lead.
Game MVP Rheanne O’Shea and Sofia Paska were at their most prolific in the moving quarter as they turned a one-point half-time deficit into a seven-point lead.
Niamh Ni Chonchuir and Meabh Barry joined Denise Dunlea, Sofia Paska and Khiarica Rasheed on the floor at the onset but with Rebecca Hynes lighting up for Tolka and with Dent and Tazsa Hammett finding their range, the Killarney lead at quarter end was just 14-13.
With O’Shea, Scanlon and Rasheed impressing, Paul’s raced 24-16 clear and coach James Fleming was rotating his line up regularly but it was the Metropolitans who hit a purple patch with Dent, Hammett and Elaine Kenny helping them in a 27-26 interval lead.
The move was made early in the third with O’Shea and Dunlea netting early threes, the former again on target from inside the arc. Hynes and Dent reacted but Paska was starting to dominate inside, a tell-tale sign for the rest of the quarter and Paska hit 10 rapid fire points. with Rasheed from the free-throw line making it a seven-point game turning for home, 48-41.
The journey home was made all the smoother as Scanlon. Dunlea and Paska stretched the lead out to double figures, with O’Shea providing the assists.
The cushion allowed St Paul’s to run their bench with Mary Kate Smith and Cliona Coffey getting floor time but the Rasheed/Paska axis steered the ship into harbour, 64-55 to the good.
The ultimate goal this season is, of course, promotion to the Superleague and two players with experience of the higher echelon are Khiarica Rasheed and Lorraine Scanlon, Rasheed even a winner with Glanmire last season.
She has some advice for his teammates: “We got to work, put it all out there and be dedicated. It won’t always be perfect, much like tonight, but you always have to put it in.”
Scanlon would relish another go up there: “Obviously, it’s a big step up but that’s where we want to be, battling with the top teams and it would be fantastic if we were to make it”.
Sofia Paska was the team’s top gun with 23 points, Khiarica Rasheed had 13, Rheanne O’Shea netted 12, Denise Dunlea 10 and Lorraine Scanlon six.
The Limerick Sports Huskies provide the next opposition for St Paul’s and they are in a real battle with their neighbours the Celtics for the runners-up spot in the Conference. Tip-off in the Killarney Sports and Leisure Centre is at 4.30pm.
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