Garvey’s Tralee Warriors will face Keane’s SuperValu Killorglin in Sunday evening’s Premier League final after another exciting evening of qualifying games at a packed Castleisland Community Hall yesterday.
Tralee Warriors comfortably qualified with three wins, but the race to be their opponents in the decider went down to the last play of the final of the night, when Killarney Scott’s Lakers needed just one more basket to pip Killorglin. But Warriors were in full flow and Killorglin — by virtue of hammering a tired Limerick Celtics 61-24 — went through, as the three sides Lakers, Killorglin, and Celtics finished on one win each.
Warriors were only missing Paul Dick, so were always going to be favourites to top the group and they started well with a 26-21 win over Killorglin. Declan Wall gave Killorglin a three-point lead coming up to half-time, but Darragh O’Hanlon responded in kind, and then American Jordan Evans was fouled as he attempted a three on the half-time buzzer. He converted three from the charity line, as Warriors retired 16-13 in front. Kieran Donaghy dominated the board in the second half and Warriors held on for a 26-21 win.
There was a shock in the second game, when Scott’s Lakers Killarney, without Sean O’Brien, were beaten by Limerick Celtics, who had only six players, but Jordan Hehir and Shane O’Connell were magnificent in a 43-39 win for the Shannonsiders.
In the meeting of Kerry pair, Killorglin struggled against the perimeter shooting of Lakers, who led 24-14 at half-time and, with Seamus Brosnan (16), Mark Greene (11) and Mark O’Shea (7) in top form with their run-and-gun game, they went on to win 44-30 and it looked curtains for Keane’s Killorglin.
Warriors played some of their bench against Limerick Celtics and eased to a 47-29 win, with Eoin Quigley (11) and Fergal O’Sullivan ( 8) top-scoring, while young Dáire Kennelly came in and put five on the scoreboard.
So, it came down to the final two games and a tired Celtics were no match for a rampant Killorglin, who had Daniel Jokubaitis shooting the lights out, scoring 25 points, including four three-pointers, as Killorglin won 61-24.
It remained to be seen if that would be enough. Lakers needed to score 30 against Warriors but they fell two short as Warriors kept the pressure up, starting nearly their first Superleague five (only Paul Dick was absent), as Eoin Quigley, Kieran Donaghy, Dusan, and Fergal O’Sullivan kept Warriors in front.
However, it was Jordan Evans with 17 who top-scored, while Keith Jumper entertained the crowd with a couple of slam dunks, as Warriors coasted to a 52-28 win.
Even in defeat, if Scott’s Lakers had scored 30, they would have booked a place in the final, but it’s the two Superleague sides, Warriors and Keane’s Supervalu, who will clash in Sunday’s showcase, which starts at 7.40pm.