UCD Marian 84 Quish's Ballincollig 68
BALLINCOLLIG were well-beaten by a better, bigger UCD Marian team in the InsureMyVan.ie U20 Men’s National League final at the National Basketball Arena on Sunday.
The Cork side did not play well enough at the start of both halves and when it mattered most, they did not have the scoring power to upset the students despite 17 points from Sean O’Flynn and 14 points from Colm Blount.
Ballincollig got off to a horrible start in this final. After five minutes they trailed 12-4 and looked in real trouble. Marian’s big man Shane Morgan was killing them inside and on offence the Cork side looked very nervous and uncertain.
But coach Daniel O’Sullivan steadied the ship when he introduced U17 Rory O’Flynn and Colm Blount after five minutes and suddenly Ballincollig found their confidence and the shots started to fall.
It was a remarkable turnaround by the Cork team. For the early stages, they looked out of their depth, but they dominated the closing five minutes of the quarter and inspired by the efforts of Brendan Doulana, Sean O’Flynn and Cillian O’Connell they led at the end of a great comeback, 21-20.
The second quarter was very even and close with the lead changing hands on several occasions. Luke Gilleran and Colm O’Reilly were leading the way for the students, while O’Flynn (with 11) and Colm Blount (nine) kept Collig in the hunt.
At the break, they trailed 38-43 but they would have taken great confidence from how they came back into this game and knew a good start to the third quarter could have set them up for victory.
Coach O’Sullivan went back to his starting five at the start of the third quarter and unfortunately, that backfired. By the time he brought back in Blount and O’Flynn after three minutes of action, they were behind by 12 points, 39-51 and were in real trouble again.
O’Flynn made a huge impact hitting the next five points for Ballincollig as they clawed their way back into the final.
Blount was soon scoring too, but with five to play they still trailed by 12 and were forced into a timeout to regroup and try to find their composure and scoring touch again.
They couldn’t. UCD kept piling on the scores and at the end of the third Ballincollig were 18 down, 53-71.
Ballincollig upped their defensive intensity at the start of the fourth and while that slowed down the Marian scoring rate, they were continuing to struggle themselves on offence.
With 5.38 remaining in the game coach Daniel O’Sullivan called one last timeout to try to rally his players. It didn’t work, but like all good teams they went down fighting until the end. They never stopped trying.
Marian were the better team. Their greater height and scoring rate were too much for the Cork team who can still be very proud of their season, despite this 16-point loss.
C O’Reilly 20, C Walsh 12, P Moran 11.
S O’Flynn 17, C Blount 14, R O’Flynn 11.
L Gilleran, R Byrne, J Gilligan, C O’Reilly, P Moran, S Miltiadis, C Morris, S Lysaght, B O’Hara-Duggan, C Walsh, T Coogan, E Fitzgerald, R MacDonacha, O Farley, S Morgan, F Keane, O Given, D McKenna.
A Kremenskas, R O’Flynn, D McMahon, J Scannell, C O’Connell, S O’Flynn, S O’Regan, E Carew, D Barry, C Blount, I Eroutteh, B Doulana, C Keegan, H Murphy, J Gabriel, A O’Donovan, D Quinn.
C White, A Statkus , T Dunphy.