Mercy Mounthawk win electric all-Kerry final to be crowned national champions

A huge first-quarter display from the Tralee school was ultimately what secured them victory.

Mercy Mounthawk win electric all-Kerry final to be crowned national champions

Mercy Mounthawk, Tralee 81 St Patrick’s Secondary School, Castleisland 64

Mercy Mounthawk were crowned Under 19 'A' All-Ireland Schools Cup champions at the National Basketball Arena this afternoon as they won out 81-64 in an electric all-Kerry final against St Patrick’s Secondary School, Castleisland.

A huge first-quarter display from the Tralee school was ultimately what secured them victory, as they outscored St Patrick’s 25-10 in that period to open up a cushion that would remain intact for the remainder of the game.

Despite a superb following three quarters from St Patrick’s, the damage had already been done and Mounthawk were crowned champions by a 17-point margin.

Steven Bowler put in an MVP performance for the Tralee side, with a 24-point game, but there were leaders all over the floor for Mounthawk, with Daire Kennelly dominating the boards, Tim Pullman Daamen knocking down some key scores, and James Fernane also to the fore.

“That was an unbelievable game,” said a thrilled head coach, John Dowling afterwards.

“Two Kerry teams there – basketball in Kerry is alive and well. I’m delighted for our guys, a lot of them were on the losing side last year.

“It’s easy to coach a team when you have leaders like that, but no words can describe what this feels like.

“We’ve been working at the school for 11 years trying to get to a final. Last year, we finally got there, and now this year, we’ve won it. You don’t always get your just rewards in sport, but the boys certainly got it today.”

Mounthawk drove into the lead early on, opening up a 9-0 gap by the midway mark of the quarter, with Pullman Daamen and Leery Odiahi leading the scoring.

A big push from St Patrick’s at the midway point saw Gary O’Sullivan hit an opening three-pointer, while free throws from Jack Tobin and Donal Geaney followed. Tobin was on hand to get some key defensive stops at the other end, and they soon paid dividends as he knocked down a big three.

As the quarter wound down, though, it was Mounthawk who were in charge, with back-to-back three-pointers from Zigi Kalekta and Pullman Daamen to see them lead 25-10 at the end of the period.

Mounthawk asserted their dominance in the opening stages of the second quarter, driving into a 34-12 lead with three minutes gone, behind superb scoring from Pullman Daamen, Bowler and Fernane. It was Kennelly under the boards, though, who was causing huge problems for St Patrick’s and his dominance there helped keep Mounthawk’s big lead intact.

A run of scores from Bowler saw him finish the quarter with 10 points, while at the other end, it was Aaron Fleming, Geaney, and Gearóid Coffey who kept the scoring ticking over. Despite a strong finish to the quarter, Mounthawk were still firmly in control at half time, leading 46-29.

A similarly closely-fought third quarter followed as the sides matched each other almost score for score. Kennelly was again to the fore for Mounthawk, causing havoc under the boards, while the sharpshooting of Kalekta, Pullman Daamen, and Bowler saw Mounthawk have the answer each time, as Fleming went off at the other end for St Patrick’s, netting back-to-back threes as the quarter ticked down.

Pullman Daamen replied in kind at the other end to see Mounthawk win the quarter 22-19 to take a 68-48 point lead into the final quarter.

A massive fourth quarter from St Patrick’s followed and with Fleming, Gary O'Sullivan, and Padraig Fleming leading the charge, they had the deficit back to 13 points with just three minutes to play.

With momentum firmly in the hands of the Castleisland school, it was Bowler who stepped up for Mounthawk and drained a dagger three to kill off the spark and despite some great work from Coffey and Aaron Fleming as the clock ticked down, it was Mounthawk’s day.

MERCY MOUNTHAWK, TRALEE (KERRY): Tim Pullman Daamen, Sean Pullman Daamen, David Burke, Daniel Bowler, Zigi Kalekta, Cian Devine, Oliver Harte, David Goranski, Steven Bowler, James Fernane, Daire Kennelly, Leeroy Odiahi, Sean Collins

ST PATRICK’S SECONDARY SCHOOL, CASTLEISLAND (KERRY): Darragh Kelly, Cathal Culloty, Aaron Fleming, Padraig Fleming, Shane Óg McGaley, Gary O’Sullivan, John Curtin, Gearóid Coffey, Adam Kelly, Donal Geaney, Jack Tobin, Darren O’Donovan, Darragh Culhane, Padraig Hilliard, Nathan O’Callaghan, Keith Daniel, Cian Ring.

MVP: Steven Bowler (Mercy Mounthawk)

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