Smallwood helps Tigers shoot way into Munster dominated semi-finals

ABRAKEBABRA Tigers overwhelmed DART Killester - 111 to 88 - to send three Munster teams through to the semi-finals of the National Cup on what was a great weekend for basketball in the province.

The other SuperLeague side from Kerry, Gleneagle Lakers, had a shock victory over Neptune on Sunday afternoon and while the defending champions, Mardyke UCC Demons, were going about their task against UCD yesterday afternoon, the Tralee side were dishing out a hammering to Killester in a game everyone predicted would go right down to the wire.

Tigers, however, completely dominated the proceedings and while Killester might find excuses in the form of illness to key players like Quigley, Grennell, Behan and Kavanagh and a finger injury that allowed Damien Sealy just 18 minutes in total on court, one has to hand it to the Tralee men.

This was a performance to savour - 25 points from Roy Smallwood, 2 from Luke O’Hea and 19 from Kieran Donaghy - and they did it without Micheal Quirke, who is in America with the Kerry footballers, and a fully fit John Teahan.

They took the lead early on and had a nine point advantage at the end of the first quarter. Killester hit back in the second and just when it appeared as if they might be on top, Tralee’s Player/Coach Chris Craig responded with two big three pointers. Luke O’Hea added another to sent the visitors into the half time break leading by a massive 21 points, 54-33.

The signs were ominous for Killester but they battled back to trail by just 13 points in the third quarter. But that would be the closest they would get to Tigers, who ended up with five players scoring 17 points or more, while Killester’s new man, McLemore, failed to get into double figures.

On foot of this performance, Tigers will travel to the National Arena at the end of the month when they will join defending champions, Mardyke UCC Demons, and Gleneagle Lakers, who had a shock victory over Neptune on Sunday.

The semi-final quartet will be completed by Roma St Vincent’s who make a return to Cup Final weekend following a decisive 105-87 victory over the 2002 champions, Limerick Lions.

Limerick drew the short straw, now having to travel to Glasnevin to play a St Vincent’s side that has been improving by leaps and bounds in recent weeks.

Star of the show was undoubtedly the imposing Mike Trimmer, who may have played for just 32 minutes but, in that time, took the game apart with a top score of 30 points and 10 blocks that had fans on their feet.

With Trimmer shooting the lights out, Vincent’s led from the start. He scored 16 points in the first quarter and that helped the home side into a 27-18 lead - a lead they would stretch to 13 points at half time when they were ahead 47-34.

Limerick’s Chris Jeffries began to take a more active part in affairs in the second half but by that time Roma St Vincent’s had established an unassailable lead and their defence were giving nothing away. They were 72-57 up at the end of the third quarter and Limerick’s problems were compounded when they got into foul trouble. Liam Farrell fouled out midway through the quarter, Freeman went with four minutes remaining and Palmer walked just before the buzzer.

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