Match Report by Thomas Hackett
Moycullen’s u18s faced off against Ballincollig in the semi-final stage of the national shield competition in the Parochial hall last Saturday. There was an air of confidence surrounding the Moycullen squad following their win against Killester in the quarter-finals and they used this momentum to escape from Cork with the win.
It was a slow start to the first quarter for Moycullen as they struggled to secure offensive rebounds, allowing Ballincollig’s big men to finish second chance looks in the paint. Despite this, point guard Paul Kelly was able to penetrate the defence with ease on numerous occasions, drawing fouls and finishing through contact. Moycullen’s half-court offense was very stagnant in the first, making it hard to find easy looks for shooters like Evan Somers and Kevyn Burke. It was a low scoring game to finish out the quarter, 11-10 to Ballincollig.
Moycullen’s offensive play improved in the second quarter thanks to the valuable contributions of James Connaire and Aaron Kiernan off the bench. James was able to take advantage of Ballincollig’s poor zone defence and score a number of shots from the perimeter, while Aaron carried the rebounding load in the paint. Moycullen utilised the fast break well in the second quarter, with Dara Heffernan running the floor for a number of layups. However, Ballincollig’s guards began to test the Moycullen defence, scoring both shots in the lane and from the outside. There was very little discrepancy between the two teams to finish the half, 22-23.
Moycullen’s play was rejuvenated in the third quarter thanks to the offensive onslaught from Mark Convery. Although he had a quiet first half, Mark scored from both the paint and the outside in the third quarter. He proved a headache for the defence due to his combination of size and athleticism. Paul Kelly continued to run the show from the point, drawing the defence and kicking the ball to the open man under the rim. However, the opposition refused to back down and Ballincollig’s guards attacked the basket vigorously. Ballincollig held onto a tight lead going into the final quarter, 36-34.
James Connaire got Moycullen off on the right foot in the fourth quarter, putting three points on the board with a contested shot from the corner. Mark Convery also demonstrated his shooting touch from deep, scoring a sequence of tough midrange jump shots to maintain Moycullen’s small lead over Ballincollig. Moycullen’s defence was uncharacteristically poor for most of the game.
However, they were able to limit Ballincollig to only 14 points in the last quarter. With a minute left on the clock, Mark Convery came up big with an elbow jump shot, putting the game out of reach for Ballincollig and granting Moycullen the win on the road, 56-51.
Moycullen made it difficult on themselves at some points in the game but they are nonetheless happy to leave Cork with the win.
Moycullen now face local rivals Maree in the Shield final in Dublin’s Oblate hall on the 2nd of April.