The Neptune U20s took the long road to cup glory by beating the best

The Neptune U20s took the long road to cup glory by beating the best
Neptune players celebrate after defeating Dublin Lions. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

THERE was an air of delight in the Neptune camp after their U20 National Cup victory in Tallaght at the weekend.

It wasn't this gifted group of players best display of the campaign but coach Kieran Leahy praised his troops for getting the job done.

Kieran Leahy, U20 head coach,  and assistant Paul Kelleher. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Kieran Leahy, U20 head coach,  and assistant Paul Kelleher. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“We came through it the hard way but I predicted last week that Dublin Lions would be tough opponents and that’s the way it panned out,” Kieran Leahy.

Coach Leahy believes his side got sucked into playing the game Lions' way in the first half. They didn't replicate their form from the earlier rounds but the likes of Darragh O'Sullivan, Cian Heaphy and Scott Hannigan still chipped in with key baskets.

Neptune's Scott Hannigan the MVP. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Neptune's Scott Hannigan the MVP. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“When we spoke at half time it was emphasised we needed to get back doing what we do best and I think once we upped the tempo they couldn’t stay with us,” added Leahy.

Neptune were pitted against the best teams in the run-up to this final and coach Leahy believes it would have been a shame if they hadn’t finished the job.

“Nobody would have predicted the draw we had but to defeat Kubs, Moycullen and Templeogue before finishing against Dublin Lions and that is some achievement as we defeated top sides from the opening round.”

Neptune certainly improved after the break, with David Murray, Scott's twin brother James Hannigan, and Jake Collins played their part. 

Neptune's David Murray takes on Dublin Lions' Finn Hughes. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Neptune's David Murray takes on Dublin Lions' Finn Hughes. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“In the second half we were a different team and it was the Neptune high tempo basketball that got us over the line.

“Scott and James had lots of minutes on court this week and we have players that have been consistently playing in the Super League but when you have the level of fitness of those players it helps them in a game of this magnitude.”

The MVP Scott Hannigan completed a great week for the family as his twin brother James was MVP for the North Mon AG in the National Schools U19 final four days prior to this decider at the same venue.

James and Scott Hannigan with their parents Jimmy and Sharon. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
James and Scott Hannigan with their parents Jimmy and Sharon. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“To be honest I don’t think we are particularly worried about MVP awards because when you’re playing with the players on our team they all contribute huge minutes,” said Scott.

On a final note, Hannigan felt the win was dedicated to a former teammate who sadly passed away in 2017.

“I think as a team there is not a day goes by that we don’t think of Liam Chandler and I am sure he is looking down on us today as proud as punch that we have managed to win this championship.”

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