UCC Demons 97
Sligo All Stars 100
SO close and yet so far for an understrength UCC Demons as they came up short against Sligo All Stars in a hard-fought Men’s Super League clash at the Mardyke Arena on Sunday afternoon.
UCC Demons were always going to be under pressure as they went into the game without American Jeremiah Moore who picked up a midweek groin strain.
The game started with both teams playing at a ferocious pace with Jamie Hayes nailing a long three pointer for the visitors in the second minute.
The home team were relying on playing zone defence and although Sligo were not shooting the ball particularly well, they still commanded a 12-8 lead midway through the quarter.
Defence wasn’t top of both sides priority as many baskets were scored unchallenged and Demons allowed Sligo score a buzzer beater when Hayes nailed a backdoor lay- up that gave them a 28-22 lead.
Kyle Hosford is presently playing superb basketball and a stunning move to the hoop yielded a basket and bonus that brought the minimum between the teams.
Midway through the quarter Sligo edged into a two-point lead as Demons were struggling to find baskets and how the Sligo guard Tom Child was allowed the space to shoot at will was mind boggling.
The one trait in this Demons side is their will to win and they had to dig deep in this period when Sligo threatened to take total control.
The introduction of Kevin Moynihan added some mettle in defence and with Tala Fam putting in his usual solid shift the home side were very much in the game entering the closing minutes.
Sloppy play didn’t help Demons cause and they were punished with a late Cian Lally basket that gave Sligo a healthy nine-point interval lead 55-46 lead.
American Greg Poleon nailed a three pointer for the visitors on the restart as Demons looked in trouble unless they could find a way to register some baskets.
Tala Fam responded with a slam dunk before Kyle Hosford responded with a brace of free throws that reduced the deficit to eight points.
The home side pushed on again and two consecutive dunks from Fam had the home fans in rapture as the lead was now down to four points in the 23rd minute.
Once again Demons went into meltdown as poor defence allowed the visitors nail the next two baskets as coach Danny O’Mahony was forced to call a time out.
Poleon extended the lead to 12 points with a superb shot outside the paint on the restart but with Nwagboso doing little at the post the home side were always struggling to contain the westerners.
In the closing minutes Demons reduced the lead to six points but slack defending allowed the visitors shoot three pointers for fun and a buzzer beater from Poleon extended the lead to 12 points 82-70 entering the final quarter.
Another Poleon three dented Demons hopes on the restart, and they looked in serious trouble with eight minutes remaining when they trailed by 17 points.
Demons coach O’Mahony rightfully substituted Nwagboso and the truth is when his team needed him to perform with their American missing he once again came up short.
The spirit of Demons resurfaced and with Hosford, Fam and the Hannigan twins they took the game to Sligo coming down the stretch.
Into the closing minute and with Demons trailing by three points they had two opportunities to tie it but attempts from Hosford and David Lehane rimmed out.
Sadly, time wasn’t on their side but Demons battling qualities should be commended in the manner they fought to the bitter end.
Scorers for Sligo All Stars: G Polson 29, A McGeever 15, T Child 13C King 13.
UCC Demons: T Fam 32, K Hosford 18, S Manjovic 11, J Hannigan 9.
UCC Demons: J Hannigan, S Carney, R Moore, K Hosford, S Hannigan, D Lehane, T Fam, V Bykov, C Cuff, C Looney, K Nwagboso, S Manojovic, K Moynihan, B Murphy.
Sligo All Stars: M Chambers, R Young, A McGeever, C Lally, S Snee, C King, A Lockhart, G Poleon, T Child, O O’Reilly, J Henry, J Hayes, J Coughlan, A O’Shea.
Referees: J Dooley (Portlaoise), M Alkurdi (Athlone), S O’Shaughnessy (Tipperary).