Ireland's senior women's team, which includes Mayo's Dayna Finn (5), topped Group A in the European Championships for Small Countries with victory over Malta today. They play Kosovo in Saturday's semi-final.

Mayo's Finn shines again for impressive Ireland

Another impressive display from Ireland at the European Championship for Small Countries today saw them defeat old rivals Malta 78-48.

The 30-point victory means Ireland top the group and go through to the semi-finals on Saturday (July 24).

Mayo native Dayna Finn player her part in the win, scoring nine points and contributing handsomely around the court. Her well-earned ‘and one’ put Ireland ahead by five in the first quarter but impressive shooting from Malta, including several three-point shots, kept them in the running.

For Ireland, Gráinne Dwyer was particularly impressive in defense, with a steal and forced turnover through a backcourt violation. Fiona O’Dwyer rounded out the quarter with a pair of converted free throws to leave Ireland ahead by seven after the 10 minutes were up.

A steal and a lay-up from Finn stood out as one of the best scores of the second quarter, and by half-time Ireland were 14 points to the good.

Ireland’s stamina and determination really showed through in the third quarter of the game, as their dogged defence resulted in just seven points being scored. Claire Rockall and Michelle Clarke pressed hard on defence in the opposition half, both diving on a spilt ball to earn a turnover late in the quarter.

A jump shot from Malta’s Josephine Grima, brought about by a Sasha Lecuyer steal and Maria Bonett assist, was the final score of the quarer, but by this stage Ireland were ahead by 21 points.

Malta showed intent in the final quarter, scoring a hook shot in the opening play, but a free throw from Melia and lay-up from Clarke set the tone once more for Ireland.

Hannah Thornton made a steal late in the quarter to set up a Tiernan three-point jump shot, with an Áine McKenna assist. McKenna then finished the game off in style when she stole the ball in the Ireland half, made the driving lay-up, drew a free, and made the ensuing free throw.

Ireland will face Kosovo in the semi-finals on Saturday, with Luxembourg facing Malta in the other last four encounter.

Ireland: Michelle Clarke (8), Áine McKenna (4), Dayna Finn (9), Claire Rockall (2), Rachel Huijsdens (10), Gráinne Dwyer (4), Edel Thornton (5), Fiona O’Dwyer (6), Claire Melia (19), Hannah Thornton (2), Sorcha Tiernan (5), Áine O’Connor (4).

Malta: Sophie Abela (2), Kristy Galea (14), Mikela Riolo (3), Samantha Maree Brincat (6), Maria Bonett, Stephanie De Martino (7), Cristina Sollami, Claire Ciantar (4), Julia Xerri (1), Sasha Lecuyer, Josephine Grima (8), Christina Curmi (3).