UCC Demons 73 Sligo All-Stars 64
A STUNNING UCC Demons performance powered the hosts past Sligo All-Stars in a highly-charged President's Cup semi-final at the Parochial Hall.
There were many heroes for Demons while Spanish star Tala Thiam Fam excelled with a game-high 31 points.
Fam has ensured Demons remain unbeaten all season and despite consistently finishing as their leading scorer, he has yet to be named in the Player of the Month awards in the Men’s Division 1 League. Strange but he has a cup final on the horizon to show his class.
He resides with the club chairman Michael O’Leary and is now steeped in the northside club, after three impressive seasons.
Sligo went into the game as slight favourites but they came up against a Demons side that were fired for the occasion.
For Demons coach Danny O’ Mahony, this was a crucial win with newcomers Drogheda Wolves next up on January 22 when they bid for the coveted title.
“Yes we were fully aware that Sligo were a team full of talented players but we have great belief in our squad and thank you to our fans who came and supported us,” said O’Mahony.
The Demons chief praised his players' resilience but they will not be taking Wolves for granted in the decider.
“Over the years there have been many shocks in the cup and we are not going to get sucked in with the favourites tag because at the end of the day it's 40 minutes of basketball,” added O’Mahony.
The mood in the Sligo camp was naturally one of disappointment as coach Glen Monaghan reflected on his team’s performance.
“We have no excuses because on the night the better team won and although we brought it back to a point in the closing minutes it was always a game when we were playing catch up,” said Monaghan.
There is a great appetite for the sport in Sligo and in the coming months they could yet go head to head with Demons again in a bid to win promotion to the Super League.
“There is strong possibility we will clash again in the league play-offs but look that’s for another time as today the plaudits deservedly go to Demons and we wish them well in the final,” added Monaghan.
In the opening quarter, Demons came out of the blocks quicker and with Dave Lehane nailing a three-pointer and basket they soon commanded an eight-point lead.
Demons were smart in defence as they focused on Sligo’s key players and for Keith Jordan, it proved a frustrating night he was held to 13 points.
In the early exchanges, Toby Christensen picked two early fouls but Tala Fam matched up to Jordan and shut him down.
Jordan did finish the quarter with a deft move to the hoop but Demons looked comfortable when commanding a 22-14 lead entering the second quarter.
To be fair Sligo played far better defence on the restart as Demons scoring dried up a little despite commanding a 10 point lead in the 15th minute.
In the closing minutes to the interval, Demons stayed in control as they commanded a nine-point lead at the break.
The third quarter was a scoring famine for Demons as they failed to score for five minutes.
Luckily the westerners didn’t take advantage and entering the final quarter Demons stretched their lead to 12 points.
Some careless Demons play coming down the stretch allowed Sligo back in the game with Christensen getting punished with a silly fifth foul.
It got worse for Demons as Sligo reduced the deficit to the minimum but the experience of Demons' Kyle Hosford ensured that’s as good as it got for them.
Hosford oozed class when the game hung in the balance as Demons eventually secured a nine-point win.