Moycullen U18 Men showed unbelievable heart in the National Cup Semi Final vs Tolka Rovers to overturn an 18 point deficit in the second quarter, tieing the game at the end of regulation, 71-71, before edging the overtime period for a magnificent 78-76 victory and a place in the final vs Neptune BC.
A good start saw them establish an early 5 point lead but the first quarter belonged to Tolka who scored at will to build a 29-17 lead. Matt Treacy top-score with 11 points while Emmet Lawless’s slashing game saw him connect for 7 points. Connor Curran chipped in with 7 points for Moycullen, just about keeping them in the game.
The second quarter began in similar fashion with Tolka extending the lead at one stage to 18 points. However, despite the huge deficit, there were still a few factors that allowed Moycullen cling to hope: 1) Moycullen’s driving game had Lawless and Treacy in some early foul trouble, 2) Ladmy SIla was having the game of his life with some strong post moves and scores and 3) Tolka couldn’t possible keep shooting the percentages they were operating at. Sure enough, as the quarter continued, Moycullen began to eat into the margin and, led by Sila, captain Eoghan Kelly and John Hackett they cut the deficit to 8 at the half, 44-36.
The third quarter saw momentum swing again slightly as Tolka edged a low-scoring phase, 14-12. Treacy and Brian Ashton split the scoring for Tolka while Kelly and Sila again led the way for Moycullen.
Trailing by 10 entering the fourth, it looked like a mountain for Moycullen to climb. However, with Tolka now focussing on Sila, John Hackett chipped in with 6 points as Moycullen continued to pound it inside. The gap seemed to be stuck between 6 and 8 as time slipped away. However, the third of Moycullen’s U18 international trio, Connor Curran, who had been fully occupied containing Brian Ashton, suddenly exploded back into life with a three and a couple of lay-ups and, with less than a minute left, the margin was down to three, 71-68. As Tolka went zone, Moycullen moved the ball well and Eoghan Kelly had the first three point attempt. It bounced off the ring but young James Lyons took a huge offensive rebound and, when the ball was swung to Connor Curran, there was only going to be one outcome, three points and a tied game. Good defence saw Moycullen take the game into overtime.
Overtime saw the momentum with Moycullen and scores from Lyons, Curran and Hackett had them in a six point lead. However, now holding the lead, Moycullen tightened up as nerves took over and Tolka showed great heart themselves. Three free throws from Stephen Canning saw them back within three but it wasn’t to be for them as Moycullen hung on and qualified for a second U18 cup final. They will enter it as underdogs vs a deep Neptune squad who held on (also by 2) in another thriller vs Maree, putting an end to the possibility of an all-Galway final. However, if the game is tight late on, who would bet against a battle-hardened Moycullen side.
Moycullen: Connor Curran 21, Eoghan Kelly 19, John Hackett 17, Ladmy Sila 15, James Lyons 4, Evan Somers 2, Max Brennan, Brian Garvey, Mark Convery, Ronan Clancy, Dara Heffernan, Lorcan O’Mordha. Coaches: John Cunningham, Gerry Nihill
Tolka Rovers: Matt Treacy 26, Brian Ashton 17, Emmet Lawless 14, Bobby Cudden 6, Padraig McGroggan 5, Stephen Canning 4, Eoghan O’Meara 4, Ciaran McHugh, Seamus Ashton, C Cashin, L Murray, B Owens. Coaches: Stephen Fields, Neil Curran