By Tony Leen
Ballincollig 69 Keane’s SuperValu Killorglin 64: An emotional first national cup title for Ballincollig basketball, after they out-lasted favourites Killorglin in a dramatic President’s Cup final Saturday at the National Arena.
Eleven points in the final quarter from America Cameron Clark, and 29 overall, may be a telling stat in itself, but it tells little of the heart and endeavour of Kieran O’Sullivan’s side as they staved off a surging Killorglin in the second half.
In a battle of wills, it was Ballincollig who refused to wilt.
When Killorglin edged 46-45 in front with a Kevin Grey score with 2.20 left in the third quarter, and guard Declan Wall fed in Darragh Jones for two more, it appeared as if momentum had swung decisively in their favour. Not so.
Ronan O’Sullivan produced some textbook defence, despite carrying a wrist injury into the game, blocking and rebounding as Killorglin’s scoring flow dried up.
Ciaran O’Sullivan nailed a big three with 7.46 left in the final quarter to nudge Ballincollig back in front 53-51.
And another remarkable three from Cameron Clark, with Killorglin’s leader Jokubaitis in his face preserved that lead 58-55.
It was the third quarter before the decider ignited, both sides going for broke.
Ronan O’Sullivan made a big check on Bogdanovic.
A momentum shifter perhaps, especially when Killorglin’s American guard Grey was fouled on for a dodgy looking barge call with 4.24 remaining.
When Declan Wall tied with a huge three, it seemed significant - and it was for exactly five seconds, until Clark responded in kind at the other end.
Ballincollig were hanging tough.
With 2.05 left, Jokubaitis drained a three from the parking lot, but the decisive moment in a ding dong last quarter came when Texan Clark made his seventh three-pointer to put Ballincollig 65-62 in front, Corkery adding the layup to put daylight, at last, between the two sides.
Bogdanovic kept Ballincollig honest with two, but with the Cork drums pounding in the stands, they closed it out with Ciaran O’Sullivan throwing the ball into the crowd. Emotional scenes.
Top scorers for Ballincollig: Cameron Clark (29), Ciaran O’Sullivan (11), Dylan Corkery (8), Ronan O’Sullivan (7).
Top scorers for Killorglin: Daniel Jokubaitis (27), Kevin Grey (11), Ivan Bogdanovic (10), Declan Wall (10).