UCC Demons won one of the best games witnessed in the Neptune Stadium for many years when they overcame Titans in a pulsating Men’s U20 National Cup semi-final.
Demons began in sloppy fashion with poor shooting and passing options but Titans did not punish them in the offence court. After two minutes Brian Gaffney ended the drought for the westerners, followed by consecutive baskets from Brendan Hardiman and Joseph Coughlan.
The loss of Daryl Cuff was very evident for Demons in the early exchanges as they looked very weak in the shooting department. Trailing 9-2 in the fourth minute Demons got a lift with a Mathew McCarthy three-pointer but Titans were nailing baskets with relative ease.
Joseph Coughlan is a key player for Sligo All Stars in the Super League and it was clear he was a step ahead of the majority of players on court.
Luckily for Demons Moycullen’s scoring dried up for three minutes but once again the pace of Coughlan hurt them in the eighth minute with a deft move to the hoop that gave his team a six-point lead.
The one player that stood out for Demons was McCarthy and when Colin Hannigan nailed a three with a minute remaining the deficit was reduced to the minimum. Titans did manage to expose Demons' poor defending with a buzzer-beater from Jackson Soper that gave them a two-point lead, 18-16, entering the second quarter.
O’Leary and McCarthy's three-pointers helped Demons tie the game in the 12th minute. It was now in the balance as the shots were not dropping for Titans and when Ben Horgan and McCarthy nailed consecutive three-pointers Demons surged into a six-point lead midway through the quarter.
Demons held their nerve in the closing minutes and deservedly went in at the break commanding a 40-32 lead.
On the resumption, Demons were poor at both ends of the court and some crazy shooting options allowed Titans back in the game and the lead was cut to three entering the fourth quarter.
The tension was unbearable coming down the stretch and when McCarthy drove to the hoop and executed with two minutes remaining Demons led 75-73.
The closing minutes were frantic and despite Titans getting an opportunity to win it at the death referee Majic Nazimek rightfully disallowed it as the shot went down after the buzzer had sounded.
The Demons fans went wild as Dublin awaits another huge Cork fanbase.
B Horgan 26, M McCarthy 20, C Hannigan 9, J Orji 9.
J Coughlan 30, B Gaffney 15, J Soper 9, B Hardiman 7.
J O’Leary, M McCarthy, M Konan, C O’Sullivan, D Barry, C Hannigan, J Tobin, J Orji, B Arrey, B Horgan, I Eroutteh, C Hoare.
J Langan, S Jackson, B Powell, B Gaffney, L O Conaola, D Coughlan, B Hardiman, T Burns, J Coughlan, N Kawekwune, S Cassidy, M Papoola, E Hardiman, D Gbine.
M Nazimek (Dublin), A Immers (Dublin), A Wickham (Dublin).