All Ireland Club U14 Champions! Hard to believe given where we were with two minutes left in the final with Belfast Star. The boys trailed by eight points in a game where both defences excelled and scores were hard to come by. Moycullen had rarely got three consecutive scores without Star interrupting the sequence and then eight unanswered points – including a couple of threes from Iarlaith O’Sullivan erased the Star lead. Star needed a score and took their last time out. Some great defence resulted in a 5 second violation and Moycullen had the ball back with 5 seconds on the clock. The last seconds were played out a second at a time as Star had fouls to give but ultimately they ran out of road as Paul Kelly sealed the win with a free throw. Champions!
Next time we go to watch this team, I’ll pack the defibrillator for the supporters – such was the journey they took to Moycullen’s first ever Boys U14 club All Ireland Championship. The final on Sunday looked a long way off as the boys trailed St Marys from Castleisland in their first game on Saturday morning by two points going into the final quarter. The team had difficulty establishing any kind of rhythm and only in the final quarter did they pull away from St Marys. Ballincollig handed the boys their first defeat in several months and the three point defeat left them in a very precarious position with a couple of big games still to come. The lads trailed Ballincollig by 6 entering the final quarter and while they narrowed it to a single point, they could not get parity. The first quarter vs Celtics proved to be difficult as the Dublin boys roared into a 17-6 lead. Our second five had a phenomenal 7 minutes, taking the quarter 12-0 to establish a one point half time lead. A closing quarter score of 16-6 gave the boys a 12 point win and one foot in the semi-final with a closing game against a winless Letterkenny Blaze to come at 6:30pm. The boys duly delivered and topped the group on score aggregates as Celtic & Ballincollig also had a 3-1 record. Sunday brought a semi-final against Kubs – a team we had never played before, so uncharted territory. After an enthralling game where Moycullen never led by more than two & Kubs never by more than four, the boys overturned a two point deficit entering the fourth to win 50-48 in an absolute corker – not for the fainthearted!! The weekend had many heros – Paul Kelly’s never say die attitude, constantly taking the fight to the opposition, Mairtin O’Conghaile’s heroics against Liffey when his spirit & aggression galvanised the team, James Connaire’s 23 points against Kubs in the semi, Ger Davoren’s quiet efficiency, Tommy McNeela’s timely scores, James Cummins’ determination throughout and Iarlaith O’Sullivan’s quiet brilliant defence and of course those two threes !! But when all is done, the game is essentially a team game and in games of such tight margins, all of the players contributed, a rebound, a block, a nudge here & there – all the small things added up to a first U14 All-Ireland title for Moycullen. <a