For the Swords coach David Baker, it was particularly a momentous occasion to have won their first trophy at this level.
“We were feeling the same as Killester last season after losing to Templelogue but as a team we regrouped and made it our number one priority to bounce back.”
President Michael D. Higgins was in the Arena to witness a superb MVP performance from Spaniard Jose Maria Gil Narbon and a powerful point guard display by Isaac Westbrooks in the face of friends and former teammates. A Killester trio of 2010 National Cup winners all started the game with Al Casey captaining the side alongside Peder Madsen and the indefatigable Jermaine Turner.
Baker, whose club in Swords are attached to Griffith College, has signed top class Americans and European players since they joined the Super League in 2012. “I go to different camps in the States every year and I also scour Europe as the players I sign are students that attend Griffith College in studying for various degrees.”
The Swords chief made six changes from last year’s defeat to Templeogue but his top signing this season has been Spanish ace Jose Maria Gil Narbon. After putting in a memorable display for his club, the Spanish ace who spent time playing with Real Madrid was over the moon to have helped his side lift the trophy.
“It is a great honour for me to be named as MVP of this final but the most important thing is that the team won as individual awards are just a bonus,” said Gil Narbon.
The Spanish star has lit up the league this season and is pleasantly surprised with the overall standard.
He added: “The top teams in the league are competitive and nothing comes easy even at for me as the Irish players are very gritty. In Isaac Westbrooks we have a great player, leader, and captain as he is the heartbeat of our side.”
Westbrooks learned his basketball skills at Killester and it was ironic he was part of the 2010 side that won the title.
The Killester trio of Al Casey, Pete Madsen, and American Jermaine Turner were also part of that triumphant team as Westbrooks recalled the glory days at the Clontarf club.
Westbrooks said: “I had great days at Killester and will never forget them but my life has moved on and I am now very happy to be playing with this great Swords Thunder team.
“My father Jerome came from the States in the early 80s and all our family were involved with Killester, so yes, I do feel for the players because losing cup finals is not easy to take.”
Saturday’s televised decider was low scoring with both sides playing some stringent defence. Killester needed a big game from American Jermaine Turner but he found the going tough against Gil Narbon and Americans Justin Goldsborough and Conroy Baltimore.
The plus of having two Americans helped Swords as they could afford to rotate Goldsborough and Conroy to wear down Turner.
The outside shooting of Cian Nihill and Paddy Sullivan kept Killester in touch at the break as they only trailed by six.
As the third quarter progressed it was evident the class of Thunder was taking over, and with Westbrooks dictating the pace at the point, it was no surprise they took total control of this final.
Cian Nihill joined Killester from Moycullen this season and playing in his first final at this level, he showed deft shooting touches that kept his side in the mix for long periods.
Nihill said: “We gave it our best shot but it was evident despite playing good defence, scoring 51 points will not win you a final at this level.”
Ciaran Roe* (9), Peder Madsen* (2), Cian Nihill* (16), Alan Casey (Capt)*, Jermaine Turner* (12), Patrick Sullivan (3), Niall Hegarty (2), Eoghain Kiernan (7), Andy McGeever, Jonathan Grennell, Jody O’Neill, Peter Lacey.
Isaac Westbrooks*, Kevin Lacey* (3), Charlie Coombes* (10), Jose Maria Gil Narbon* (12), Justin Goldsborough* (14), Conroy Baltimore (7), Alex Calvexe (12), Paul Caffrey (2), Alex Dolenko (6), Conor Gallagher, Eric Westbrooks.