Fr Mathew’s 96 Limerick Celtics 95
FR MATHEW’s can thank a heroic extra-time display from American, Jervis Pugh, for their enthralling President’s Cup win over Limerick Celtics at the Fr Mathew’s Arena on Saturday.
The Cork side trailed for the majority of the game but found resolve in the closing minutes of extra-time to secure a memorable win.
The scenes at the end of the game were contrasting as the Mathew’s players and fans danced with delight while the Celtics players dropped to their knees in anguish, scarcely believing they had actually lost a game that looked in the bag.
“I knew it was a potential banana skin as we played hard defence and they still managed to nail baskets from all angles of the court,” said a delighted Mathew’s Darko Bucan, in his first season as player-coach and he is enjoying the role.
“When you work with a committed group of players it’s always fun and I think tonight we had to answer a lot of questions when defeat stared us in the face.”
The opening quarter was high tempo with two committed teams battling at both ends of the court.
The Shannonsiders relied on the shooting of Deivadas Vennkunas, while Mathew’s were shooting the ball exceptionally well and with Owen Connolly unstoppable for a period and Pugh playing a significant part, they deservedly led 26-24.
On the restart, both teams continued to score at will, but the experience of the former Limerick senior footballer John Galvin posed Mathew’s problems as a late Jack O’Mahony basket ensured the home side went in at the break leading 45-43.
In the second half Celtics looked the better team for long periods as American Kevin Oberweizer and Spanish star Carlos Hortelano were scoring for fun as they led 71-68 entering the final quarter.
Coming down the stretch Celtics looked home and hosed when commanding a four-point lead, but two late Bucan free throws forced the game into extra time with the score at 85 points each.
Celtics again took command on the restart, but the class of Pugh and Connolly ensured a Mathew’s win at the death as Celtics were left to rue a missed opportunity.
Scorers for Fr Mathew’s: J Pugh 33, O Connolly 31, J O’Mahony 15.
Limerick Celtics: K Oberweizer 35, C Hortelano 25, J Galvin 17.
Referees: J Malypso (Portlaoise), Ger Daly (Cork).