Gallery: Ballincollig basketballers celebrate three in a row after bruising overtime cup battle with Carlow

Gallery: Ballincollig basketballers celebrate three in a row after bruising overtime cup battle with Carlow
Ballincollig celebrate after the game. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Tradehouse Central Ballincollig 73 IT Carlow 67

IF cup finals were easy to win, they wouldn't mean as much.

When the buzzer sounded in Tallaght on Saturday evening, the Ballincollig bench exploded to life to embrace their team-mates on the hardwood and the raucous crowd lept from the seats to salute their heroes.

It had been a bruising encounter from the off but the Collig made enough big plays to deserve their success.

Andre Nation and Ciarán O'Sullivan, their primary scorers, took a while to click through the gears but when they did IT Carlow were put on the back foot. 

Ciarán O'Sullivan scores a key basket. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Ciarán O'Sullivan scores a key basket. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

O'Sullivan hit six points in a row in the second half that reeled in the Leinster side, while Nation's 18 boards, four steals and three blocks were accompanied by 27 points.

It was enough to secure him the MVP though he was quick to defer to his team-mates.

"I actually gave away the trophy to one of our fans in the crowd," said Nation. "I'm not interested in that, it only matters that you win with your team-mates. I actually said to Ciarán there that he should have got MVP, he got some huge baskets when we were under pressure.

"It's just great for the club to win three cups in a row. It's my second and it's a special feeling. We're really tight as a group and while we didn't play as well as can, we got there in the end."

Andre Nation of Tradehouse Central Ballincollig dunks the ball over James Butler. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Andre Nation of Tradehouse Central Ballincollig dunks the ball over James Butler. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

It genuinely was a collective effort.

Ronan O'Sullivan iced a pair of free throws in overtime and drifted out towards the three-point line to create space inside. In a tight and tough game, Colin Murray, Jack Kelly and Darragh Fleming chipped in with baskets off the bench. That was important with Daniel O'Sullivan and Ian McLoughlin unavailable through injury.

Colin Murray of Tradehouse Central Ballincollig celebrates. Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Colin Murray of Tradehouse Central Ballincollig celebrates. Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Spanish wizard Inigio Zabola, like Nation, was slicker in other games this season but some of his finishes around the rim were still breathtaking. Dylan Corkery didn't score from the field but nailed two free throws and contributed his usual quota of disruptions. An unsung.

Zabola, the 23-year-old they recruited from Sligo for this campaign, explained it was his first cup success.

"Back in Spain I never won a cup. I was in some play-off games but this was another level. Cup finals are tough. We can play a lot better but it's just fantastic to win something here."

Inigio Zabola of Tradehouse Central Ballincollig in action against Jordan Fallon. Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Inigio Zabola of Tradehouse Central Ballincollig in action against Jordan Fallon. Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Tradehouse Central Ballincollig were unbackable favourites to complete three-in-a-row in the President's Cup final beforehand. Unbeaten at the top of the Division 1 table and heading to the Super League, they were expected to sweep IT Carlow aside.

Instead, they were pushed to the limit by the underdogs, who tore into Ballincollig in the first quarter to lead 24-8 and were a missed three away from grabbing a victory at the fourth-quarter buzzer.

Ultimately, the Village's nous, fitness and sheer quality in overtime ensured the trophy was coming back on the bus to Tradehouse Central again.

Tradehouse Central Ballincollig players celebrate with the trophy. 
Tradehouse Central Ballincollig players celebrate with the trophy. 

Kieran O'Sullivan's charges inexplicably managed one three-pointer from 17 attempts while Carlow knocked down eight from their 28 efforts beyond the arc. 

On another day that would have been costly, but champions die hard and Ballincollig marched on, with the league their next target.

The Tradehouse Central Ballincollig squad. Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
The Tradehouse Central Ballincollig squad. Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

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