LYIT Donegal 73 Tradehouse Central Ballincollig 84
THE Division 1 champions produced another superb performance to defeat LYIT Donegal on the road on Saturday afternoon.
Following the high of a sizzling home display to wrap up the title last weekend, they could have been forgiven for easing off in their remaining games.
Instead, another top-notch performance, topped off with a 37-point haul for Andre Nation, ensured a 20th league victory of the season with two matches left.
Coach Kieran O’Sullivan paid tribute to his troops for their commitment.
“Naturally when you are after winning the championship you might expect a drop in the intensity stakes but credit to the lads they showed true professionalism in the manner they played from start to finish,” said O’Sullivan.
The journey to Donegal saw the Cork side depart at 7am for a 4pm tip-off and coach O’Sullivan knew this was always going to be a difficult task for his side.
“I am privileged to be associated with this group of players as they just love playing basketball and 20 wins undefeated in the league, and four in the cup, shows their dedication."
For the LYIT Donegal coach Niall McDermott it was an opportunity to lavish praise on the champions, who they ran close in an earlier league meeting at BCS and also in the President's Cup semi-final.
“I think nobody in this division could deny that Ballincollig are simply are at another level to all of us and although we have been competitive in all our three games, in the end, we couldn’t contain them."
The opening quarter was played at a ferocious pace and with the Ballincollig American Nation looking lively the Cork side soon commanded an eight-point lead.
The northern side responded to the wake-up call and in the closing minutes reduced the deficit to four points, led by their marquee players Manny Payton, Dom Uhl and Andy McGeever.
The trend of the game didn’t change on the restart but with both defences on top it was no surprise that Ballincollig only had a 45-37 interval lead.
The game changed completely in third quarter as the class of Nation and Dylan Corkery gave Ballincollig the required impetus as they surged into a 16-point lead.
The Donegal side looked shell-shocked and with Nation finishing with a dunk Ballincollig took an 18-point cushion into the final quarter.
Coming down the stretch LYIT Donegal threw everything at Ballincollig to get back in the game but it wasn’t to be as the journey back to Cork was made a little sweeter for the champions.
Top scorers for LYIT Donegal: D Uhl 26, M Payton 22, A McGeever 14.
Tradehouse Central Ballincollig: A Nation 37, I Ziabola 13, D Corkery 10.
Referees: J Hegarty (Belfast), T Trainor (Belfast).