Ní Dhaibhid turns tide for íosagáin
Rising star pulls semi win out of bag for Coláiste
Coláiste íosagáin 46
St Joseph's, Abbeyfeale 39
Cáit Ní Dhaibhid is now just a game away from collecting that elusive winners medal her efforts deserve after a terrific display for Marie O'Toole's golden girls in Friday's semi-final played at the National Arena.
This marks Coláiste íosagáin's first appearance in an U19A final in three years -- then, they came up short against a Holy Faith team inspired by the Woods twins.
Ní Dhaibhid captured an Evening Herald Sports Star of the Week earlier on this year for her stunning display in the cup quarter-final against Holy Faith Clontarf in November.
And the model student, who is also a member of Hugh Kilbride's Meteor's U20 team that reached this season's national cup final, showed just how valuable she is to the team and she transformed her team's fortunes in the second quarter.
With O'Toole and Ruth Rutléis assisting from the sidelines íosagáin looked dead and buried against a side who were all out to avenge last season's narrow U16 cup defeat.
And the Munster girls got off to an explosive start with Rachel Collins and Eabhnait Scanlon propelling them into a 15-3 lead at the end of the quarter.
And although Sorcha McNulty was to fire in an early basket for Abbeyfeale, Ní Dhaibhid was starting to make her presence felt as she recorded three unanswered scores under the Abbeyfeale basket to cut her opponents' lead to five points.
However, Abbeyfeale were to pick it up again with some slick passing setting up scores for Meadbh Roche, Eibhlis Dillon and McNulty.
But íosagáin finished the half strongly and, following a basket from Ní Dhaibhid, their talented U16 Cliona Máirtín dropped in a basket to leave it 25-17 at the interval.
And íosagáin then took control as they went on a 9-0 run that included baskets from Karen Ní Néill, Karen Ní Mhaonaigh, Ní Dhaibhid and Cliona Máirtín to lead 33-29 at the end of the third.
íosagáin stretched their lead to six points early in the fourth, but a three-point play from McNulty reminded the South Dublin girls that this game was far from over. But try as they may, Abbeyfeale just couldn't close the gap despite efforts from Roche and Collins.
And with Ní Dhaibhid and íosagáin's new emerging star, Máirtín, hitting baskets, íosagáin held on to set up a final meeting with cup winners, Calasanctius Oranmore.
Coláiste íosagáin: Cáit Ní Dhaibhid, Karen Ní Néill, Rachel Toland, Meadbh Ní Chléirigh, Clodagh de Bhearnabhail, Fionnuala Gygax, Karen Ní Mhaonaigh, Cliona Máirtín, Cara Rutléis, Catriona Ní Murchú, Shannon Huggard.
St Joseph's, Abbeyfeale: Meadbh Roche, Amy O'Connor, Sarah Sheehy, Samantha Ahern, Sorcha McNulty, Eibhlis Dillon, Eabhnait Scanlon, Tracey Mulvihill, Rachel Collins.