A masterclass from veteran Killester American Jermaine Turner was key to an unexpected 81-69 win over UCD Marian in the Men’s National Cup semi-final.
Turner, 43, amassed a staggering 28 rebounds and 15 points that helped his team to a memorable win. The stalwart was carried off following a knee injury with 3.33 remaining in the third quarter but after intense treatment returned to the action two minutes into the fourth quarter.
Turner, surrounded by his ecstatic teammates, was thrilled after the game as he reflected on another magnificent chapter in an illustrious career. “You don’t have many opportunities like this when you get to my age so you got take them when they come your way,” he said.
The Killester ace reflected on last year’s semi-final defeat to eventual winners Templeogue that spurred his team to victory. “We should have beaten Templeogue and I think the hurt of that loss inspired many of the guys here tonight.”
Not many pundits would have given Killester a chance of toppling UCD Marian as the students had demolished them in the league — Turner was proud in the manner his teammates approached the game. “I am not surprised no one gave us a glimmer but as a team we knew what was needed to defeat this very talented side.”
Killester were never led in this game and with Cian Nihill and Turner excelling in the first half they deservedly commanded a 10 point interval lead 41-31.
Despite getting into foul trouble and Turner’s injury, their Irish players dug deep, particularly Nihill and captain Al Casey.
Coach Brian O’Malley praised his players resilience. He said: “When UCD Marian beat us in the league, they out-hustled us in the second half and we knew to have any chance of defeating them we would have to put in a similar shift. My players are the heroes who give up three nights of their time and I think this group deserve their day in the sun.”
That day will be cup final weekend against Griffith Swords Thunder, who saw off Moycullen 85-77 in the second semi-final.
Last year’s finalists were sluggish for long periods and despite commanding a 14-point interval lead, their Galway opponents stayed the pace with them. Coming down the stretch, the class of Isaac Westbrooks and Spanish ace Jose Maria Gill Narbon was critical in ensuring a hard-earned win.
After the game Swords coach Dave Baker spoke of his relief in leading his team to their second consecutive final.
“I don’t think that was our best performance of the season but at the end of the day the result was all that mattered.
“Despite preparing well, some of our players simply didn’t perform but now we must put our total focus on our next two league games.”
It proved a great evening for MVP Isaac Westbrooks who finished with a game high 19 points.
Westbrooks said: “Our coach was rightfully annoyed with our display but credit to Moycullen they hung in there right to the end.
“You could see the experience of Moycullen’s Paul Freeman as he gave our post players a tough test on the boards.”
The mood in the Moycullen camp was positive despite the loss as coach John Cunningham praised his team’s perseverance. “We gave our all but Swords produced key baskets when we threatened to get back in the game.”
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