Bat­tling Thun­der run out of steam

Fingal Independent - - SPORT - PAUL BYRNE

SWORDS Thun­der ladies bat­tled hard but ul­ti­mately fell short against a very tal­ented Trin­ity Me­te­ors side in this Na­tional League Di­vi­sion 1 clash played at ALSAA on Satur­day evening.

Trin­ity have lost just twice all sea­son and are bat­tling for top spot in the North­ern Con­fer­ence of Di­vi­sion 1 along with Ul­ster Univer­sity Elks.

The bat­tle for the lead­er­ship is now well and truly a two-horse race, with both the Me­te­ors and the Elks a mas­sive nine points clear of third-placed Phoenix Rock­ets.

With all that in mind Thun­der knew they were in for a tough chal­lenge against a side that beat them 83-61 back in Oc­to­ber.

Swords came into the game off the back of two de­feats against the UL Huskies and Fab­plus North West. How­ever, there was some cause for op­ti­mism as both de­feats were close af­fairs and pro­duced some ex­cel­lent pas­sages of play from the Fin­gal side.

Peggy Black has been a key player for Thun­der this sea­son and she once again led the line here at the ALSAA with a cou­ple of early scores to get her side up and run­ning.

How­ever, Trin­ity pos­sessed two po­tent weapons in the shape of New Yorker Si­mone Hobdy and Sue Fog­a­rty and both ladies proved dif­fi­cult to stop in the open­ing quar­ter as the Me­te­ors took the lead early on.

Swords Thun­der re­sponded well, though, and fin­ished the first quar­ter in style - with four bas­kets with­out re­ply - to roar into a 23-15 lead as the open­ing buzzer sounded.

Peggy Black was ably as­sisted by Tia Kelly Stephens and Anna Bren­nan dur­ing that open­ing quar­ter, where the home side showed they were cer­tainly not go­ing to roll over for the joint league lead­ers.

Trin­ity be­gan the sec­ond pe­riod with fire in their bel­lies, though, and within five min­utes had wiped out that early Swords lead thanks to some ex­cel­lent scores from Hobdy, in­clud­ing a three from dis­tance.

Swords re­fused to buckle, how­ever, and they kept with the Me­te­ors as both sides traded scores dur­ing a fast and fu­ri­ous sec­ond quar­ter.

Peggy Black’s ex­cel­lent two whilst un­der se­vere pres­sure was wel­comed loudly by the crowd as Thun­der re­gained the lead to­wards the end of the sec­ond quar­ter. How­ever, right on the buzzer Trin­ity got their noses back in front thanks to a well-taken score from Fog­a­rty which put the vis­i­tors 32-31 ahead at half-time.

Hav­ing put in such an ef­fort in that sec­ond quar­ter Thun­der vis­i­bly be­gan to slow down dur­ing the third as Trin­ity fi­nally be­gan to get on top.

Hobdy and Fog­a­rty were be­gin­ning to find more space now, while Peggy Black and Tia Kelly Stephens weren’t see­ing as much of the ball. A run of eight points with­out re­ply saw Trin­ity fin­ish the third quar­ter with a use­ful-look­ing 51-40 lead.

Swords scored the first two bas­kets of the fi­nal quar­ter to give their sup­port­ers hope, but it proved to be a false dawn as Trin­ity fin­ished the game strongly to even­tu­ally win by 17 points.

Speak­ing of 17 points, that was the in­di­vid­ual tally ac­cu­mu­lated by Swords’ Peggy Black, while Tia Kelly Stephens fin­ished with 10 points and Anna Bren­nan seven.

Me­te­ors’ lead­ing scor­ers Hobdy and Sue Fog­a­rty, both with 15, couldn’t quite match the feats of Peggy Black, while Sarah Kenny (11 points) also reached dou­ble fig­ures for the away side.

Swords Thun­der’s Tia Kelly Stephens tries to en­gi­neer a shoot­ing chance against Trin­ity Me­te­ors dur­ing the game at ALSAA last Satur­day.

Peggy Black, the top scorer in the match, switches play with a long pass to a team­mate.

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