UCC Demons 80 Ballincollig 64
UCC DEMONS have two National Cup finals to prepare for after an outstanding display brushed off rivals Ballincollig at the Parochial Hall on Sunday morning.
The U20s will head to Tallaght on the weekend of January 21-23 while their Division 1 men's team contest the President's Cup final. On the evidence at Neptune Stadium, Shane McCarthy and Troy O'Mahony's youngsters have nothing to fear.
The northsiders led throughout. They had more scoring options across the floor and were better at securing rebounds and driving to the hoop, which resulted in Ballincollig's two best players Colm Blount and Hugh Murphy fouling out.
Demons' top-scorers were Ben Horgan, still U17, with 19 points including five three-pointers, and Matthew McCarthy, while Jack O'Leary and McCarthy were a dynamic backcourt combination. Jake Orji and Jordan Ukah grabbed some excellent buckets and Luke Sutton had three blocks to go with his nine points.
They carried a substantial 62-49 lead into the fourth quarter and despite the best efforts of Ballincollig, were in total control coming down the stretch. The Village missed the strength of the injured Issac Eroutteh but Demons had clearly learned their lessons from a narrow league defeat earlier this season, curbing Seán O'Flynn and Cillian O'Connell in the first half.
Ballincollig would have been satisfied to limit the highly-rated Jack O'Leary to 14 points but he still had a huge influence and had enough support to confidently run the game in the second half. His playmaking was exceptional.
Demons were far slicker in the opening exchanges, a crisp three from Ben Horgan setting the tone and they led 12-6 with 4.04 to go in the first quarter.
O'Leary and McCarthy were keeping the tempo high while Ballincollig got into early foul trouble.
Blount was immense in this period, putting up nine points and grabbing a succession of rebounds, but Demons were more balanced and deservedly led 21-16 heading into the second quarter.
Hugh Murphy scored three successive baskets to open the second quarter. However, after a Blount putback trimmed the gap to two, 26-24, Collig couldn't draw level. Horgan found his range again for eight points on the bounce, including two threes, only interrupted by a Brendan Doulana lay-up and when O'Leary was fouled with the clock running out the gap was out to nine, 39-30, at half-time.
Demons scored nine from free throws in the opening half, Ballincollig just one, a Blount bonus after a wonderful hook shot, which neatly summed up the difference between the teams.