IT Carlow 87 Tradehouse Central Ballincollig 88
TRADEHOUSE Central Ballincollig had to produce a stunning second-half performance before overcoming a stubborn IT Carlow side in a thrilling Men’s Division 1 National League game at the Barrow Centre on Saturday.
In a game that Ballincollig trailed from start to finish, a late scoring surge saw them eventually wear down their resilient opponents.
After 16 league wins without defeat, Ballincollig looked destined to be heading for their first loss of the season but a superb Ronan O’Sullivan floater sealed a famous memorable victory.
For assistant-coach and top-scorer in Carlow, Ciaran O’Sullivan, this was a close shave for the second time this season against the same opposition. The Village needed overtime to prevail in a cracking cup final last month, where the Leesiders secured a third success President's Cup.
“They made us battle, a lot of decisions went against us but we have resilience and we found a way to win,” said Ciaran O’Sullivan.
The Ballincollig ace acknowledges his team are within striking distance of winning the title and getting promoted, but it still refusing to get carried away.
“This win was crucial as the road is now clear for us to be crowned champions. We've a few more tough matches left though,” added O’Sullivan.
With five games remaining and four wins ahead of second-placed Killarney, official confirmation fo their elevation to the elite is coming.
The opening quarter was competitive but the home side were shooting exceptionally well, mainly from the outside threat of American Duane Harper.
Ballincollig needed to be stringent in defence and late baskets from Inigio Zabola ensured they reduced the deficit to the minimum: 25-24.
On the restart Carlow played champagne basketball and with Harper and Jordan Fallon exposing Ballincollig with sublime shooting outside the arc they soon commanded a 12-point lead.
The Cork side had to dig deep in the closing minutes to the break but Carlow continued to shoot baskets at will and deservedly commanded a 52-39 lead.
On the restart, Ballincollig responded to the wake-up call and with Andre Nation draining late baskets the deficit was reduced to 69-66 entering the final quarter.
Coming down the stretch both teams traded baskets but a Ciaran O’Sullivan lay-up and three-pointer, along with Ronan O’Sullivan’s stunning winning basket helped Ballincollig stole it at the death.
Top scorers for Tradehouse Central Ballincollig: C O’Sullivan 20, A Nation 18, R O’Sullivan 16, I Zabola 16.
IT Carlow: J Fallon 30, D Harper 26, K Donohue 14.
Referees: T Dunphy (Dublin), E Cooke (Cork).