Neptune fail to fire as Tralee Warriors secure first cup crown

Cork side couldn't impose their will against a determined Kieran Donaghy led Kerry crew
Neptune fail to fire as Tralee Warriors secure first cup crown

Garvey's Tralee Warriors' Kieran Donaghy with Gary Walsh of C&S Neptune battling at the National Basketball Arena. Picture: INPHO/Evan Treacy

Garvey’s Tralee Warriors 88 C & S Neptune 75 

A FIRST title for Garvey’s Tralee Warriors as they lifted the Pat Duffy Men’s National Cup after a resounding victory over C & S Neptune at the National Basketball Arena.

The Cork side, who had averaged 87 points all season, were restricted in this final; the tally of 75 points tells its own story.

There was major disappointment in the Neptune camp after the game as assistant coach Darren Geaney tried to sum up mood.

"Huge disappointment as we failed to show up and Tralee came up with all the key baskets and we had no answers."

Neptune looked in form coming into the biggest game of their season, but Geaney pointed out sometimes that happens in finals.

"Unfortunately we had a terrible night at the office and all we can day is give congratulations to Tralee Warriors as they are worthy champions."

Both teams looks tentative in the opening exchanges with a number of missed shots before Daniel Jokubaitis banked one in the second minute. Nil Sabata levelled on the next possession but the arena erupted when Cian Heaphy took off from the top of the quay and produced a soaring slam dunk.

The play was fast and furious but both sides were making basic mistakes as Eoin Quigley scored an unchallenged lay-up that edged the Warriors ahead 9-7 in the sixth minute. The introduction of Kieran Donaghy paid dividends as he scored consecutive baskets that gave his team a six-point cushion before Miles Washington replied with a neat basket.

In the closing minute, Donaghy executed his third basket but lucky Neptune’s Catalonian Aleix Tarradellas made a late three-pointer that reduced the deficit to 17-12 entering the second quarter.

The standard of shooting improved but Warriors were beginning to take control and following an unsportsmanlike foul called on Colin O’Reilly the Tralee side surged into a 10-point lead.

Amazingly Neptune had only scored 23 points up to the 17th minute and as they went for a time out they trailed by 11 points 34-23.

It got worse for Neptune on the restart as the Tralee side extended their lead to 15 points as the Blackpool side were on the ropes. The lead was reduced to 12 points with 1.06 remaining to the interval when the Warriors called a time-out.

Indeed the Tralee side finished in style as a stunning Jokubaitis three saw them go in at the break commanding a healthy 43-28 lead.

C&S Neptune's Nils Sabata drives to the basket. Picture: INPHO/Evan Treacy
C&S Neptune's Nils Sabata drives to the basket. Picture: INPHO/Evan Treacy

Neptune lack of firepower was clearly their major issue and it wasn’t the amount of shots missed as they only attempted 13 outside the arc, making four.

Poor defending on the restart allowed Aaron Calixte increase the lead to 17 and Neptune badly needed to shut up shop to get back in the game.

Two O’Reilly free throws and when Washington followed up another basket the deficit was reduced to eight points 50-42 as the atmosphere in the arena lifted. Credit to the Warriors responded and with three minutes remaining they had restored a 14-point lead.

Then came a slight coming together of players that saw Kieran Donaghy punished with his fourth foul but Neptune failed to capitalise and trailed 60-45 with 1.15 left on the clock.

Entering the last quarter Neptune looked in serious trouble trailing 64-50 and a huge three-pointer from Jokabaitis extended it to 17.

It was a case of going through the motions for the Warriors coming down the stretch as Neptune had no answers to their better-balanced squad.

The sound of the final whistle brought wild scenes at the Tallaght venue as the Warriors at last reached the Holy Grail.

Top Scorers for Garvey’s Tralee Warriors: D Jokubaitis 19, A Calixte 19, E Quigley 14.

C & S Neptune: N Sabata 21, R Downey 17, A Tarradellas 11.

C & S NEPTUNE: G Walsh, J Hannigan, R Downey, K O’Donoghue, D Varma, C Heaphy, M Washington, N Sabata, C O’Reilly, A Tarradellis, A Heaphy, C Leahy.

WARRIORS: B Cotton, N Roso, A Calixte, Z Kaletka, F O’Sullivan, O Michalczuk, D O’Hanlon, K Crowe, K Donaghy, D Jokubaitis, J Fernane, S Bowler, E Quigley, A Fleming, R Elksnis, P Fleming.

Referees: M Nazimek (Dublin), E Perry (Dublin), C White (Dublin).

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