Rebel Wheelers 60
FOR the second year in a row Rebel Wheelers from Cork are the IWA Hula Hoop National Cup champions.
Their win over their arch rivals Killester who they are battling with for league title honours was a superb advertisement for the game of wheelchair basketball and one wonders at this stage if this game should be moved to another slot on the weekend calendar of finals such is the quality of the players on display and the basketball played.
Derek Hegarty was the star for the champions and the game's MVP, but he was ably assisted by Jack Quinn, Jonathan Hayes, Dylan McCarthy and Conor Coughlan, who were all superb on the night.
Rebel Wheelers got off to the better start hitting their first three shots to lead six nil after two minutes with four of those coming from their ace shooter Jack Quinn.
Johnny Hayes hit their other early basket.
But by the sixth minute, Killester, who were a lot older than this young Rebel Wheelers side had drawn level at six apiece, but their experience was beginning to show as they tried to fast break the ball at every opportunity.
Dylan McCarthy started to come alive in the final few moments of the opening quarter and his three points saw the Cork side trail by 2 after 10 minutes, 13-15.
Rebel Wheelers began the second quarter like the first hitting the first two baskets to go ahead 17-15 with the coach’s son Conor Coughlan doing the damage for the Cork side.
It was very noticeable in this quarter that both sides have a dislike for each other as the defensive intensity went through the roof with both sides playing a very tough, aggressive man-to-man full court defence which was a joy to watch.
No quarter was being asked or given as both sides were prepared to get hurt to help their side win.
At the break Rebel Wheelers with Derek Hegarty, Paul Ryan and Johnny Hayes doing more than their fair share led 27-25 in what was turning out to be a classic final.
With just under four to play in the third Rebel Wheelers led 35-31 with the impressive Conor Coughlan hitting some super shots to help his side into a deserved lead.
The game’s top scorer Derek Hegarty was continuing to shot the lights out as he took his total to 17 points with another basket as the lead stretched to six, 37-31.
Another quick four points from Hayes and Hegarty had the Cork side in a great position 41-31 with just over a minute left to play in the third.
And with 10 to play it looked great for the defending champions Rebel Wheelers as they led 44-33 and were in control of this fantastic final.
The Cork side started the fourth in super fashion hitting eight quick points to lead 52-37 with captain Jack Quinn impressing once again in this spell.
With Hegarty and Coughlan continuing to lead by example Wheelers led 52-39 with five to play.
Killester, despite the 13 point deficit never stopped playing, but the better side with the better players and the best player Derek Hegarty went on to defend their title and another treble is still on the cards for coach Con Coughlan’s side.
Rebel Wheelers: C Coughlan, J Quinn, P Ryan, A Hennebry, D Hegarty, J Hayes, A Dineen, C O’Brien, D O’Regan, C Coughlan, D McCarthy, S Juranek, S Ryan.
Killester: J Fulham, P Dockery, M Cunningham, C Doyle, B Cooke, J Reddin, D Healy, M O’Cearra, P Franey, P Forbes, S McCullagh.
Referees: A Timmons, N Mvula.