Rebel Wheelers 58 Killester BC 49
REBEL Wheelers retained their IWA National Cup and completed three in a row with a magnificent win over Killester at the National Basketball Arena.
The champions were made battle to the wire against their Dublin opponents who also put in a superb display over four quarters.
The scenes were ecstatic at the final buzzer as player-coach Alan Dineen praised his troops.
“This game was all about playing good defence as we knew we had good scoring power and to be honest I never felt we were going to lose this final.”
It only took 50 seconds for the Rebel Wheelers to get up and running courtesy of a Jack Mangan basket from a Conor Coughlan assist.
Killester looked up for battle and they soon levelled proceedings with Seamus Holland move to the hoop.
Credit to both sides they were playing intense defence and with Mangan continuing to take his scoring opportunities the Cork side led 7-4 in the fourth minute.
Indeed one would be surprised at the physical of wheelchair basketball as there is collisions when they are picking in the offence court.
The Dublin side were playing fast-break basketball that was posing the Wheelers problems but they still led by the minimum with 2.38 remaining in the quarter.
On the next possession, patience was rewarded for Killester when following two free throws from Holland they led for the first time 10-9.
The Wheelers once again showed their class and responded and deservedly led 13-10 entering the second quarter.
On the restart Conor Coughlan nailed a nice shot and when Derek Hegarty followed up with a similar basket the Wheelers looked to be in ascendancy.
To be fair the exertions of playing basketball at this level is very demanding and you could see in this period that fatigue was setting in with some of the players.
Consecutive baskets from Michael Ó Cearra reduced the deficit to two points for Killester midway through the quarter.
Derek Hegarty (11), who was MVP in the 2020 final, had a slow start in the scoring department suddenly spring to life and three consecutive baskets from him ensured the Wheelers went in with a six-point cushion: 28-22.
The outstanding Conor Coughlan (16), the MVP this time, got the Rebel Wheelers up and running with a slick shot.
Killester signed a few new players this season and they now look a complete team and despite trailing in the 24th minute 34-24 they were still very much in the game.
The one player who continued to pose the Cork outfit problems was Seamus Holland who consistently came up with key baskets.
Just when the Wheelers need a basket Hegarty came trumps with four minutes remaining in this period that restored their eight-point lead.
The game was still in the melting pot in the closing minutes and when John Fulham scored following another fast break the lead was down to six points.
In the closing possession, Hegarty nailed a brace of free throws that brought his total to 18 points as the Cork side led 43-35.
The Killester captain Patrick Forbes shot a monstrous three-pointer on the restart but the Wheelers captain Jack Quinn responded with a similar shot on the next possession.
Both sides continue to lose energy as we entered the crucial final minutes but Killester were still fighting for their lives as they reduced the deficit to six points.
Derek Hegarty has been a consistent hero for the Rebels and he came up with a basket and two key assists that gave his side 12 point lead.
Try as they did Killester threw the kitchen sink at the Rebel Wheelers but time was not on their side as the title returned to Leeside.
D Hegarty 18, Conor Coughlan 16, J Quinn 13.
S Holland 17, J Fulham 10, P Forbes 9.
J Quinn, N O’Sullivan, A Hennerbry, D Hegarty, A Dineen, D O’Regan, C Coughlan, D McCarthy, J Mangan, S Ryan, C Coughlan, S Juranek.
S Holland, M Cunningham, A O’Donoghue, B Suxha, B Cooke, P Franey, S McCullagh.
A Timmons, N Mulva.