On Saturday 5th October the Moycullen U13 Boys team won a prestigious Cork County Basketball Board title. On the way to the final they beat Fr Mathews, Neptune and Liffey Celtics. They met Fr Mathews again in the final and clawed back a 5 point deficit in the last 2 minutes of the 4th quarter to force extra time. They went on to outscore their opponents in the extra period and secured a famous victory.
The Cork County Basketball Board tournaments are known as the best tournaments for club basketball in Ireland. These tournaments are juvenile basketball’s equivalent of a major in golf or a grand slam in tennis. To win such a tournament is certainly an achievement of note.
The players on the Moycullen U13 squad have been together for the past 4 years and have developed a strong team spirit. They work hard for one another on the court and always encourage one other from the bench. A squad of 12 players, coached by Dylan Cunningham, had a score to settle as they travelled to Cork on Saturday. Fr. Mathews had beaten them in the final of the U12s last year and the players felt they needed to make amends.
Moycullen’s pool included Fr. Mathews and Neptune. The winner of the pool was guaranteed a place in the semi-final with the best loser from the three pools getting the other semi-final position. Fr. Mathews had already beaten Neptune by 5 in the Pool A opener so the scene was set, the battle lines had been drawn. There was no room for complacency, Moycullen needed to win this pool which everybody agreed was the most difficult pool in the tournament.
What better way to start than to meet, Fr. Mathews, their nemesis from last year in their first pool game. Moycullen started the first quarter with Paul Kelly, Rian Oates, Iarlaith O’Sullivan, Eoin O’Reilly and Mark Heffernan. It was a tense first quarter with only a basket separating the teams at the end. There was strong defensive rebounding and tight marking throughout. The second quarter team of James Cuimmins, James Connaire, James Wall, Conor Walsh and Mairtin Conneely put in a lot of work against a tough Fr. Mathews selection. Wall opened the quarter’s score with a nicely executed steal and Connaire punished his opponents’ fouls from the free throw line. The first half ended with Moycullen 3 points ahead; Moycullen 19, Fr. Mathews 16. The second half team started with Tommie McNeela coming in for Mark Heffernan. During the third quarter Moycullen opened up their opponents defence with some great scoring; Kelly and O’Sullivan notching up 12 points between them. Moycullen’s tight defence kept Fr. Mathews to 5 points in this quarter. The final quarter saw Troy Deveany replace Conor Walsh, Devaney making an immediate impact with a well taken score. Fr. Mathew’s showed determination in the final quarter but were unable to match a very solid Moycullen performance. Final score was Moycullen 41 to Fr Mathrews 31.
Moycullen took nothing for granted going into the Neptune game. Cunningham ran the same quarter line-ups as the previous game with all 12 players seeing action. The Neptune team were up for a game. However the Moycullen lads, buoyed by their earlier win, beat Neptune well. There were strong performances in this game by Walsh who rebounded well and fought hard for every 50:50 ball and Heffernan whose trademark tenacity under the boards was evident throughout the day. The final score of 47 to 30 was a fair result. The Cork lads had no answer to the clinical finishing of the Moycullen team.
Liffey Celtic were to be Moycullen’s next opponent in one of the tournament’s semi-finals. They had come through as deserved winners of their pool. This game started very tight – the usual first quarter line-up playing nip and tuck with the Dublin lads throughout. In spite of some class scores from Moycullen, including a long range swish from O’Reilly, it seemed for a while that the Dubs had the measure of the Galway lads. Celtics were leading by a point at the end of the first quarter, the score Moyculen 6, Celtics 7.
The game looked like it could go either way. The second quarter started off equally tight but then the Celtics lads started to notch up team fouls and the tide started to turn with Conneely grabbing a couple of valuable scores and Connaire shooting his free throws like a pro. At half time it was 19 points apiece – too close to call. Moycullen hit a purple patch in the third as McNeela came on and tore through the Liffey defence to put away 3 well worked baskets. Moycullen were led by 8 at the end of the third and eased through the fourth to finish the game with a convincing 43 to 27 win.
In the meantime on the other court Fr. Mathews had put away Cork rivals, Blue Demons in their semi-final to set up another Moycullen – Fr. Mathews final.
Moycullen came out of the blocks in the first quarter like they meant business. Kelly and Oates contributing well giving a 10 to 3 first quarter lead. Fr. Mathews then played a strong line up in the second quarter and were picking off scores with clever offensive plays and using their tall centre who was mopping up both offensive and defensive rebounds against his smaller Moycullen opponents. By the end of the first half the Cork lads had taken the lead with a scoreline of 19 to 16. The second half started with determined Moycullen chipping away at the Mathews lead. Kelly scored 10 points and excellent defence from the rest of the lads gave Moycullen a 1 point lead (30:29) going into the fourth. Fr Mathews came out fighting in the fourth and quickly built up a lead. With two minutes to go to the final buzzer Moycullen were down by 5 points. Fr. Mathews were fouling quite a lot at this stage in an attempt to hold back the unrelenting attacks from the Moycullen lads. Cummins, who played a storm all day at point guard, narrowed the gap to 4 with a free throw, further attacks by Moycullen reduced the Fr. Mathew lead to 1 point and then with 20 seconds left on the clock an ice-cool Connaire landed a crucial free throw to put the teams level at 39 each. The final buzzer sounded – it was going to extra time.
Supporters from both sides watched through their fingers as their teams once again locked horns. Cunningham gathered his players together, set out a simple, effective offensive play and sent them out to battle. Moycullen dominated the extra period with scoring 4 points to Fr Mathews 1. Final score Moycullen 43, Fr. Mathews 40. Jubilation for Moycullen and their supporters.
Well done to the lads on a great win and a fantastic team performance!