THE North Mon has always been a powerhouse on the schools basketball scene.
Throughout the 1980s and '90s they collected a succession of A titles but it has been 17 years since the last senior boys victory. UCC Demons stalwarts Carleton Cuff and Niall Murphy were in that team, but now the time has come to create another bit of history.
Next Tuesday in Tallaght, Gaelcholáiste Mhuire AG take on a Mounthawk Tralee side on a high after an overtime semi-final win in a Kerry derby. Coached by David Lehane and Dee Looney, the AG will have to fire on all cylinders to prevail but have a talented team of their own, including David Lehane junior, an Irish international, Kevin Moynihan, a Cork minor hurler last summer, Cian Looney and the Hannigan twins, Scott and James.
That deadly duo have a busy week ahead, as Neptune's U20s are in National Cup final on January 26. Their younger cousin Colin is also in the Gaelcholáiste Mhuire squad, along with Jack McGrath, James Collins, Ben Maguire, Luke Aherne, Mark Watkins and Michael Tobin.
The AG did the business in the Cork competition, but the national tournament is far more demanding.
“We thought we'd a chance but it's an open draw and we got Malachy's away and they were the favourites,” explained David Lehane. “That was the big one.
“We were 10 down with four minutes to go but got a great run and outscored them 16-2. The twins were outstanding on CJ (Fulton), but they all played well. They had to. We got our run at the right time.
“We had beaten De La Salle and Rathmore, but we were expected to win those games. St Paul's were tricky in the semi-final, Paul Kelly is a fine player and he got 36 points but we still got over the line.”
Now their coach is gearing up for a confident Mounthawk.
“Mounthawk will be a huge challenge because Kerry basketball is on a high and they've a few Irish internationals. They packed out the hall for their semi-final against the Green.
“The twins are a huge plus for us because they've been in two or three finals with Neptune. David has a bit of experience, not in those games, but he has played Super League and so on.
“Kevin Moynihan is a serious athlete. He had to make a choice last year to commit to the Cork minor hurlers but he was an Irish U16 international before that. He's back playing great stuff again.”
Lehane was on the court when the Mon were All-Ireland schools champions back in 1989.
“Stephen McCarthy and Gordon Fitzgerald were there. Stephen Hannigan, Colin's dad, would have been the sixth man then and he was an Irish international! That was a very good team”
School principal Donal Ó Buachalla said there's a great buzz ahead of the game.
"We'll be travelling in force to support the lads. There's a lot of basketball talent in the school, even down to first year and we'd be very conscious of our great tradition at this level."