A late free throw by Kieran Donaghy ensured Garvey’s Tralee Warriors were crowned Champions Trophy winners in an epic, 74-73 win over league champions, Templeogue, at Letterkenny, yesterday.
In a low-scoring game, both defences worked hard. The Kerry side battled, as a late Donaghy jumper at the post ensured the game needed extra-time, with the teams tied at 66 points each.
The Dublin side looked destined for victory, but a monstrous three-pointer from Trae Pemberton tied the game, with seven seconds remaining.
In that play, Donaghy was fouled off the ball and the Kerry football star nailed one of the resultant free throws.
Templeogue had one opportunity to win, but turned the ball over as the Tralee players and fans celebrated in style.
For coach, Mark Bernsen, winning this championship was justice for the effort put in all season.
“We had capacity attendances at all our home games and I think, when you look at our record over the season, it was mighty impressive.”
Team Ambassador UCC Glanmire were denied their fourth consecutive Women’s Super League title, when they lost 64-54 to Courtyard Liffey Celtics.
The Cork side were strong favourites, particularly as the Kildare outfit were without their star, American Emma O’Connor. Glanmire coach, Mark Scannell, admitted his side failed to live up to their pre-game billing.
“When you play poor defence against teams that shoot the ball reasonably, and to give up 44 points in the opening half was disastrous.”
The Glanmire chief believes Emma O’Connor not playing distracted his team.
“I think, when the news about Emma O’Connor filtered through, it possibly affected my team’s focus,” added Scannell.
Coach Scannell felt travelling to Donegal on the day of the final wasn’t the ideal preparation.
“We left Cork at 8am, and, after a seven-hour journey, we are supposed to play a league final a few hours later, but, in reality, it was the same for all the sides involved.
“I think we need to take a deep breath right now, as one defeat in a major championship doesn’t make us a bad team.”
The mood in the Liffey Celtics camp was one of elation, as coach, Mark Byrne, praised his team’s courageous display.
“I do not think anybody in Irish basketball would have given us a chance of winning this title, but the belief in my squad is unbelievable,” said Byrne.
The Celtics boss believes the injury to Emma O’Connor gave a new lease of life to his team.
“Emma was outstanding all season and to get injured in the last minute of the semi-final was heart-wrenching and I think my players brought their game to another level in this final,” added Byrne.
There was joy for Killorglin in the League Cup final, when they easily defeated Neptune 97-72.
The Kerry side laid the foundation for their win with a superb first-half. They commanded a 25-point lead at the interval.
MVP Garny Garcia bagged 21 points, and a huge volume of rebounds, to keep them ahead.
Indeed, despite the best efforts of an on-form Sean Jenkins and Gary Walsh, Killorglin found their rhythm from the second quarter, with Declan Wall netting some big shots, and Andrew Fitzgerald tipping in some crucial scores.
Neptune came back on a run in the third quarter, with Sean Jenkins and Walsh making some inroads into the deficit, but Garcia, Wall, and McLoughlin had too much fire power, and soon got back on track and Killorglin secured victory and the League Cup title.
In the Women’s Division One final, Kilkenny side, Marble City Hawks, were crowned champions, defeating Carlow ITC 55-47.
Superb performances from Kelly O’Hallahan, Elizabeth Munnelly, and Katie Fox were the difference for the Kilkenny side, with MVP O’Hallahan top-scoring, with 19 points, though scores were at a premium for both sides.
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