Amazingly the Cork side trailed 76-70 with 1.34 remaining but with the Portlaoise Panthers running out of ideas they were ambushed coming down the stretch.
In that period the Brunell’s Canadian, Kaylee Kilpatrick, was simply unstoppable but they still had it all to do with the clock ticking down.
Following a Kilpatrick basket with 20 seconds remaining Brunell had reduced the deficit to the minimum 80-79. Portlaoise inbound the ball but fell foul of the eight-second backcourt violation to get the ball over the halfway line.
A time out by the Brunell coach Kieran O’Leary saw him set a play in an attempt to level the game. When the ball was inbounded it fell to Kilpatrick who assisted Amy Waters who missed the lay up as the ball was flicked out to Megan O’Leary.
O’Leary, celebrating her 20th birthday, showed coolness personified to nail the buzzer beater as the Portlaoise players dropped to their knees in anguish, pipped 82-80. The celebrations in the Brunell camp was equivalent to a championship win as players and supporters danced with delight.
For Brunell coach Kieran O’Leary it was a victory to cherish with a visit to play fellow Cork rivals Team Montenotte in the quarter final the prize on offer for the winners.
“We certainly got out of jail but credit to my players they showed maturity beyond their years when defeat stared them in the face,” O’Leary said.
“One must feel for the Portlaoise side as many of them were in tears at the final buzzer but basketball is decided over 40 minutes and we refused to throw the towel in when all looked lost.” Meanwhile Belfast Star produced the shock of the weekend in the Men’s Premier National Cup when defeating Killester 86-74 in a thrilling clash at the Methodist College.
Star were blitzed last week in the league by C&S UCC Demons but showed great resolve to see off the Dublin outfit. In a pulsating first-half Killester had the better of the exchanges and a late Jermaine Turner basket saw them lead 40-36 at the break.
On the restart the shooting of Keelan Cairns broke Killester hearts and they have it all to do for the second leg at Clontarf on November 28.
For the winning coach Neil McCotter it was an evening to savour. “We were resilient from start to finish and I am happy we are taking a 12 point lead to Dublin because I feel we will need it,” McCotter said. “The team is progressing and we have to produce a similar performance in Dublin but I am confident we can finish the job.”
Swords Thunder had to produce a much-improved second-half performance to see off Eanna in a Dublin derby cup clash. The first-half saw little to choose between the teams as three unanswered baskets ensured Swords led 35-29 at the break. As the game developed, Swords improved and it no surprise they had 19 points to spare at the end.
Champions C&S UCC Demons will take a healthy 30-point advantage to the Mardyke arena following their 82-52 win over UL Eagles.Player coach Colin O’Reilly was forced to withdraw with injury but it made little difference as his side won in a canter.
Templeogue travelled to Galway for a first round clash against Moycullen and came away with an 80-70 win against the westerners. The Dublin outfit looked comfortable at the interval when leading 41-25 but a magnificent second-half performance saw Moycullen reduce the deficit for the second leg.
For Moycullen coach Nollaig Cunningham it was a very encouraging performance from his Irish players as American Matt Burke was axed in the days leading up to this game. “Although Matt was a very nice guy he didn’t bring anything extra to the table and that’s what you expect when you sign an American,” Nollaig said.
UCD Marian will take a 31 point first leg advantage to Glasnevin following their comfortable 116-85 win over DCU Saints.
In a high scoring first-half UCD led 60-45 and although the Saints battled hard in the second they were always chasing the game much to the disappointment of coach Joey Boylan.
“We are in transition as many of my players haven’t experienced playing at this level but credit to UCD they have a strong squad and deserved their win,” Boylan said.