After the disappointment of the previous weekend in Cork when the club U17s lost the Billy Kelly in heartbreaking circumstances, the U16s went the full distance in their quest for All Ireland honours.
One of the hallmarks of a great team is not knowing when to give up & this team has that in spades. In a group game with Ballincollig, down by three with three seconds left and Ballincollig on the line with a free throw to close the game, their hopes of a title looked done. But, Ballincollig missed, Moycullen won the rebound, got the ball up the court and James Cummins made his three-point effort just before the buzzer to the horror of the Ballincollig bench. The boys closed the game out in overtime and advanced to the semi finals where they beat a good Kerry team.
On Sunday afternoon, they faced Belfast Star in the final – the same team they met at this stage in the U14 AICCs two years back. Moycullen started quickly opening up an 8-2 lead early in the first quarter and rattled Star with their aggressive defence. The boys led 18-13 at the half and were full value for the five point advantage. The third quarter performance blew Star away as Moycullen held them scoreless , scoring 8 of their own to put them within reach of the title. The boys – remembering the previous week’s disappointment were never going to let it happen again and closed out the game – winning on a 31-18 scoreline, restricting Star to 5 second half points.
James Connaire’s 10, Paul Kelly on 9 & Aaron Kiernan with 8 did most of the damage on the scoreboard but this win was a tribute to great defence.
All Ireland titles do no come easy and when they reflect on how this one came back to Moycullen, James Cummins three points on the buzzer to tie the game against Ballincollig will be seen as the pivotal moment.
Back row: Eoghan O’Reilly, Ryan Monaghan, Paul Kelly, James Connaire, Aaron Kiernan, William Onyenweson, James Wall & coach, Dylan Cunningham.
Front row: Mark Tobin, Tommy McNeela, James Cummins, Cormac Croke, Mairtin O’Conghaile ©, Iarlaith O’Sullivan, Oisin McDonagh & Rian Oates.