Ballincollig basketballers grind out an impressive cup win in Killarney cauldron

Ballincollig basketballers grind out an impressive cup win in Killarney cauldron

Scott’s Lakers Killarney 68 Tradehouse Central Ballincollig 81

CUP basketball at its best in Killarney on Saturday night.

While the favourites progressed to a President’s Cup quarter-final with Portlaoise, they had to withstand a storming comeback against a hostile home crowd.

Ultimately, three-in-a-row chasing Tradehouse Central Ballincollig powered through, with the depth of coach Kieran O’Sullivan’s squad proving critical. A magical display from Spanish point-guard Inigio Zabola, typical excellence from American Andre Nation and the tenacity of Dylan Corkery were the pillars of another victory for the Division 1 table-toppers.

Dylan Corkery scores a basket over Mark Greene and Carlton Cuff. Picture: Eamonn Keogh
Dylan Corkery scores a basket over Mark Greene and Carlton Cuff. Picture: Eamonn Keogh

Killarney had led 24-21 at the end of the first quarter, former Neptune and Mathew’s player Michael McGinn with their opening eight points, while another Leesider Brian O’Neill nailed a majestic three and Carleton Cuff harried Nation.

It was all Ballincollig for the next 20 minutes though.

Having been restricted to a pair of free-throws, Nation upped the gears. An ankle injury, which eventually forced his withdrawal, curbed his explosiveness, but he hustled relentlessly on defence and eventually the baskets started to add up at the other end.

Ian McLoughlin played big minutes with Ciarán O’Sullivan sitting out the second quarter after collecting three early fouls and the veteran’s energy got the Village firing. Corkery was in lockdown mode on the hosts’ American Aaron Jackson and Ronan O’Sullivan’s heft was telling on the boards.

Zabola’s game-management and movement got the offence motoring and for good measure, he floated in a one-handed three-pointer on the half-time buzzer. Across the second and third quarters, Killarney were limited to 22 points with the holders scoring 44, including a trademark drive and lay-up from Daniel O’Sullivan.

Andre Nation drives to the hoop. Picture: Eamonn Keogh
Andre Nation drives to the hoop. Picture: Eamonn Keogh

To their credit, Shane McCarthy’s charges refused to wilt. Cuff and Jackson, especially, began making shots. Ballincollig went cold and a series of three-point efforts rimmed out.

With 2.41 to go, the gap, which was 19 points entering the fourth quarter, was down to six, 71-65. The Kerry supporters were on their feet, but all Ballincollig needed was a bucket to break the momentum.

Zabola duly delivered and while Jackson responded, the visitors were in the groove again.

Ronan O’Sullivan, Ciarán O’Sullivan and Nation all calmly knocked down shots from the line while Zabola added another field goal.

Scorers for Killarney: Aaron Jackson 30, Michael McGinn 13, Carleton Cuff 12.

Ballincollig: Andre Nation 31, Inigio Zabola 19, Ronan O’Sullivan 8.

Picture: Eamonn Keogh
Picture: Eamonn Keogh

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