Tradehouse Central Ballincollig 94 Sligo All-Stars 67
HISTORY was made at Ballincollig Community School when Tradehouse Central Ballincollig were crowned Men’s Division 1 champions following a stylish win over Sligo All-Stars.
The prize on offer for Ballincollig is a place in the Men’s Super League next season and they fully deserve it, after registering their 19th league success of the season to go with their third President's Cup in a row.
The journey began back in 2018 for Ballincollig when they joined the league and they finally reached the Holy Grail with this emphatic win.
Incredibly, the Collig have won 82 games in three seasons and this was a complete effort in front of a big crowd in BCS.
Naturally, coach Kieran O’Sullivan was delighted with his team’s performance.
“It was all about the win and credit to the players they have remained focused all season. I think this is a day to celebrate three hard years of trying to achieve our goal,” said O’Sullivan.
The Ballincollig chief believes next season will be a tougher trek but his players have served their time in the lower league.
“Some of the venues have small crowds and that can make it tougher in a way, it can be hard to stay motivated but we never once lost sight of what we set out to do."
It was evident the players from both sides were tense in the opening minutes with a few passing and shooting errors.
Gradually Ballincollig got to grips with the pace of the game and with American Andre Nation and Ciaran O’Sullivan driving their team on they soon gained command with the latter draining a monstrous three-pointer in the sixth minute that helped his team lead 19-9.
As the quarter matured Ballincollig continued to dominate and despite Sligo doing relatively well in the offensive court, mainly through the scoring skills of Spanish ace Alvara Roma.
The capacity attendance was treated to one wonderful phase of play a minute from the end of the opening period when Ciaran O’Sullivan threw a looping pass to Nation which the American slam-dunked in trademark fashion, much to the appreciation of the home fans.
Leading 34-19 at the end of the opening quarter, Ballincollig continued to dictate affairs on the restart and even with coach O’Sullivan using various rotations they were still in control up to the 16th minute.
In the closing minutes to the interval, the game petered out but Ballincollig seldom looked troubled as they went in at the break with a 54-40 cushion.
On the restart, Jack Kelly, who has been an unsung hero for the past three years, began with a deft jumper that set the scene for the third quarter.
The rotations continued but it made little difference and with Dylan Corkery showing lovely touches in defence coupled with his sublime moves to the hoop, Ballincollig had put this game to bed entering the fourth period when having a 29-point lead.
The fourth quarter saw all the Ballincollig fringe players get into the action as the final buzzer brought rapturous applause.
General Secretary of Basketball Ireland Bernard O’Byrne presented the championship trophy to the Ballincollig captain Ciarán O’Sullivan as the celebrations began in earnest.
Scorers for Tradehouse Central Ballincollig: A Nation 28, D Corkery 20, J Kelly 19.
Sligo All-Stars: C Long 17, A Roma 16, J San Martin 9.
BALLINCOLLIG C Murray, D Corkery, I Zabola, L O’Sullivan, D Fleming, C O’Sullivan, S O’Sullivan, C Blount, S O’Flynn, A O’Connor, J Kelly, C O’Connell, A Nation, I James.
SLIGO: O O’Reilly, M Donnellan, B Berry, J McLoughlin, J San Martin, E Keogh, C Long, M Loda, S Snee, E Donaghy, Z Balogun.
Referees: M Thornhill (Cork), J Dooley (Portlaoise)