Neptune 90 UCD Marian 75
NEPTUNE secured a place in the Men’s U18 National cup final when defeating a highly-rated UCD Marian side at the Neptune Stadium on Saturday.
There were many heroes for the hosts but the performances of Eli Lenihan, Sean McCarthy and Kelvin O’Donoghue was worthy of winning any game.
For Neptune’s coach Keith Daly this was a solid display from his side.
“The lads were outstanding from start to finish and as UCD Marian had defeated us earlier in the season we knew nothing but a top-class display would suffice,” said Keith Daly.
The mood in the UCD Marian camp was naturally one of sheer disappointment as coach Fran Ryan summed up their day at the office.
“To be fair Neptune shot the ball exceptionally well and my lads basically never got to grips with them in defence but we will assess the loss and hope these lads keep at it as they are a fine squad with bright futures in the sport.”
The game was played at a ferocious pace in the opening minutes with Kelvin O’Donoghue giving Neptune the perfect start with a superb three-pointer.
UCD were also very much for battle and when Cypriot drove to the hoop and slam-dunked in the second minute it gave his side a huge boost.
Both sides traded baskets for long periods of the opening quarter but with Neptune posing UCD problems when taking the ball to the hoop they deservedly commanded a 20-18 lead entering the second quarter.
The tempo increased as Neptune continued to hurt UCD with their shooting inside and outside the arc as Lenihan continued to punish them at will.
The sides were evenly matched up to midway through the quarter but suddenly UCD Marian went into meltdown as Neptune surged into a 15-point lead following a Sean McCarthy three-pointer.
Credit to UCD they battled hard in the closing minutes and following a late Padraic Moran three-pointer they reduced the deficit to 10 points 47-37.
On the restart, Neptune got the perfect start and with Lenihan continuing to hurt them at will they were soon back in control when they surged into a 15- point lead in the 27th minute.
The Dublin outfit continued to struggle in defence and led 74-60 entering the fourth quarter.
Coming down the stretch it was a case of closing out the game for Neptune as the Cork side used various rotation with UCD’s challenge petering out tamely.
Top scorers for Neptune: E Lenihan 27, S McCarthy 26, K O’Donoghue 21.
UCD Marian: P Moran 24, L Gilleran 22, J Muldowney 11.
NEPTUNE: P Cullinane, S McCarthy, D Varma, J Field, E Lenihan, C Finnegan, K O’Donoghue, J Kelly, E Sheehan, C Leahy, D O’Sullivan, C Duggan, A Kremenskas, J Ensko.
UCD MARIAN: D Radzius, J Sherry, L Gilleran, R Byrne, O O Lideadha, P Moran, S Miltiadis, A Crowe, T McCarthy, M Isajevas, S Lysaght, P Crotty, M Lynch, J Muldowney, O Given.
Referees: C White (Dublin), M Thornhill (Cork), J Dooley (Portlaoise).