C & S Neptune secured maximum points in last night’s Men’s SuperLeague clash against Cork rivals UCC Demons at a packed Mardyke Arena last night.
In a game that went down to the wire, late free throws from Lehmon Colbert secured a win for Neptune, much to the relief of coach Paul Kelleher.
He said: “I am over the moon with the result in a game that both sides battled hard in over the four quarters. I am proud of the lads in the manner they closed out the game as we lost our last two previous games by three points and that was hard to take.”
The game started with a flurry of three-pointers, Own Connolly draining the first for Neptune outside the perimeter.
Both defences weren’t at the required standard as there were many unchallenged shots and lay-ups in the opening five minutes.
A Demons timeout saw Niall O’Reilly introduced for Carleton Cuff and he made an immediate impact with a classy assist to brother Colin.
In the closing minutes of the opening quarter, the teams traded baskets but Demons finished the period with a stunning Brandon Watts drive to the hoop that gave his side a 25-22 lead.
O’Sullivan nailed a three on the restart and when Heaphy produced a slam dunk on the next possession, Neptune looked in the ascendancy.
Neptune extended their lead to six points four minutes into the second period as Demons went into meltdown.
Player coach Colin O’Reilly was guilty of four sloppy turnovers and with two minutes remaining to the interval, Neptune had extended their lead to nine points.
In the closing minutes both sides made basic errors but Demons continued to implode with poor shooting and passing options.
Demons had a chance to reduce the deficit to six points but Colin O’Reilly’s three-point attempt rimmed out.
Credit to Neptune they rebounded the ball and produced a fast break which saw David Murray finish in style and panache as the visitors went in at the break commanding a 54-43 interval lead.
The third quarter began in welter of excitement as Brandon Watts produced a check on Owen Connolly that brought the large attendance to their feet.
Demons were doing their best to stay in the game and when captain Kyle Hosford produced a three-pointer and basket in consecutive plays the lead was reduced to five points with 4.53 remaining.
Once again some sloppy play allowed Neptune take control and with Demons not defending Colbert at the post, they allowed their opponents regain a nine-point lead.
Indeed both teams looked ragged in the closing minutes of this period but a Colin O’Reilly basket ensured Demons trailed 70-63 entering the final quarter.
Coming down the stretch the packed attendance was treated to some fascinating passages of play.
A dreadful decision by the match officials with six minutes remaining infuriated the home fans as it looked clear that Watts was fouled when approaching the hoop on a fast break.
The home team suddenly got a new lease of life and with Watts having a great period they got their noses in front by the minimum with 3.54 remaining following a Niall O’Reilly three-pointer.
In a game that could have went either way, Colbert secured the points for Neptune after a truly epic encounter.
Scorers for UCC Demons: C O’Reilly 25, B Watts 23, K Hosford 15.
C & S Demons: L Colbert 22, C Heaphy 16, D O’Sullivan 11.
UCC Demons: C Ryan, R Murphy, K Hosford, D Lehane, B Watts, N O’Reilly, C Cuff, G Lizidans, K O’Mahony, C O’Reilly, D Lehane.
Neptune: L Colbert, D O’Sullivan, C Heaphy, D Murray, G Walsh, G Noonan, C Heaphy, S O’Connor, J Melton, R Downey, O Connolly, J Hannigan, S Hannigan.
Referees: L Cassidy (Dublin), M Gilleran (Dublin), S Brierley (Dublin).