Neptune storm back from 17 points down to knock out Ballincollig

Northsiders blitzed their hosts in the last quarter of the Super League semi-final and are now one win away from a first league crown since 2003
Neptune storm back from 17 points down to knock out Ballincollig

C & S Neptune's Nil Sabata drives at Tradehouse Central Ballincollig's Keelan Cairns during the Men's Super League semi-final at Ballincollig community school. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Tradehouse Central Ballincollig 75 C & S Neptune 92 

A REMARKABLE comeback by C & S Neptune saw off Tradehouse Central Ballincollig in the Men’s Super League semi-final play-off at the Ballincollig Community School on Saturday.

Hard to believe that two minutes into the second quarter Neptune trailed by 17 points as Ballincollig were simply awesome in the early exchanges.

Credit to the Neptune player-coach Colin O’Reilly he found a way to steady the ship and by the break his team had reduced the deficit to six points.

Many will have sympathy for Ballincollig, who went through the league with only one defeat, but with the play-offs introduced this season they had to take the scenic route if to try and make the finals in Dublin next weekend and win the title.

Also, in the days leading up to the game Neptune were disappointed it wasn't re-fixed for a neutral venue that would have given the Cork basketball fraternity an opportunity to see this game, instead of just 180 supporters. 

Hindsight is a wonderful thing but Basketball Ireland must take full responsibility in the manner these play-offs were set up for all concerned.

For the Ballincollig coach Kieran O’Sullivan there were few excuses for his sides disappointing result.

“Sadly it was probably the poorest we have played this season but credit to Neptune they shot the ball exceptionally well and in the end we come up short.” 

In the opening quarter Ballincollig played champagne basketball as they executed three-pointers for fun from all angles of the court.

Neptune were struggling to find their rhythm and while their captain Roy Downey, outstanding recently, couldn't get his shots to drop. They trailed 25-13 heading into the second quarter and were in a bit of trouble.

It got worse when Milorad Sedlarevic nailed his second three-pointer on the restart and when he added his third outside the arc the Ballincollig lead had extended to 15 points. An Andre Nation breakaway basket pushed the gap to 17.

American Nation has been a revelation for Ballincollig but when he looks back on this game he will surely rue giving up his third foul with a careless barge on Gary Walsh in the second quarter. That completely changed the tone of the game, as Ballincollig had to watch his minutes from there and he fouled out late on.

C & S Neptune's Gary Walsh is fouled by Tradehouse Central Ballincollig's Andre Nation. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
C & S Neptune's Gary Walsh is fouled by Tradehouse Central Ballincollig's Andre Nation. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Neptune basically kept plugging away. Walsh rolled back the years with a clinical shot outside the arc midway through this period and they whittled away at the lead. By interval it was reduced to six points, 39-33, and it was came on.

The body language of the Neptune coach Colin O’Reilly was positive as he knew his side were still very much in it despite playing poorly in the opening 20 minutes.

On the restart, Neptune got the perfect start with consecutive threes from Cian Heaphy and Catalonian ace Aleix Tarradellis.

Tarradellis might not have been consistent over this campaign but here he silenced his doubters with a superb display, both in terms of shooting and tough defence. Nil Sabata's ability to do damage in the post was a huge factor, while Ballincollig's return from free-throws was poor throughout the second half.

The third quarter saw both teams make a few errors but Ballincollig after a slow start regained the lead: 58-54. Then came a huge moment, Neptune Gary Walsh producing a monstrous three on the buzzer.

Whoever wrote the script of the fourth quarter certainly wasn’t a Ballincollig supporter as they were absolutely blitzed by a rampant Neptune side in this period.

The home side lost their shape completely as Neptune outscored them 35-17, with only Adrian O'Sullivan able to get scores.

Ballincollig couldn’t curtail Neptune in the closing state and the northsiders were more balanced overall after their slow start. Although the final scoreline may have been a little harsh on Ballincollig they can have few excuses.

Losing the cup final to Tralee Warriors was a huge disappointment to Neptune but now they are only 40 minutes away from winning their first league title since 2003.

C & S Neptune assistant coach Darren Geaney and players celebrate after defeating Tradehouse Central Ballincollig. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
C & S Neptune assistant coach Darren Geaney and players celebrate after defeating Tradehouse Central Ballincollig. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Top scorers for Tradehouse Central Ballincollig: A Nation 26, A O’Sullivan 19, M Sedlarevic 13. 

C & S Neptune: N Sabata 21, M Washington 14, R Downey 14, R Gittens 13.

BALLINCOLLIG: A O’Sullivan, D Corkery, A Nation, A O’Connor, C O’Connell, P Cami Galera, B Dounala, C Blount, D O’Sullivan, P Lucey, M Sedlarevic, K Cairns, J Kelly.

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

Referees: J Dooley (Portlaoise), J Malysko (Dublin), C White (Dublin).

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