CORK'S Rebel Wheelers completed their four-in-a-row IWA National Cup basketball championships when defeating a gallant Limerick Celtics side at the National Basketball Arena on Friday night.
The Wheelers missed a number of chances in the opening possession and they were punished when their former player Tiernan O’Donnell nailed a basket and bonus.
Celtics were now on a roll and O’Donnell took his tally to five points in the second minute as the Wheelers looked on the ropes.
Gradually a little bit of calmness came into the Wheelers' offence play and they levelled proceedings.
A time-out for Celtics midway through this period saw Wheelers return with consecutive baskets from Conor Coughlan and Jack Quinn edged them into a four-point lead.
In the pulsating closing minutes both teams gave their all but the Wheelers had their noses in front when commanding a 14-12 lead.
Carlos De Bunes tied the game in Celtics' opening possession as the Shannonsiders were really putting it up to the champions.
The shooting of O’Donnell was killing the Wheelers and consecutive baskets gave them a four-point lead before Quinn reduced the deficit to 18-16.
This was certainly a fascinating final with the sides level on five occasions but consecutive baskets from O’Donnell saw Celtics surge into a six-point lead with three minutes remaining to the interval.
Five consecutive Wheelers baskets gave the advantage back to the Cork side as they went in at the interval with a four-point cushion: 32-28.
The Limerick side were depending big time on Tiernan O’Donnell as he brought his tally to 20 points in the third minute of the second half that tied the game.
Midway through this period Wheelers played their best basketball of the game and it was their solid defence that laid the foundation that saw them move into an eight-point lead.
Credit to Celtics they refused to lie down and when De Brunes banked a shot with remaining the lead was reduced to three points.
The Wheelers responded and consecutive Quinn baskets saw them race into a seven-point lead with 1.22 remaining.
One more basket from Quinn was enough for the Wheelers to go into to the final quarter leading 52-43.
On the restart, Wheelers moved up another gear and with Derek Hegarty showing all his experience they increased their lead to 12 points.
The pendulum swung again as the Celtics courtesy of the outstanding O’Donnell got the lead back to five points but the majestic Quinn showed his incredible shooting skills by helping the Wheelers restore a 10-point lead.
The former Neptune ace Adam Drummond came on with 2.10 remaining and nailed his first shot much to the delight of the travelling fans.
In the end, the four in a row was completed in style.
J Quinn 27, C Coughlan 11, J Mangan 10, D McCarthy 10.
T O’Donnell 31, J White 11, J Hargrow 6.
C Coughlan, J Quinn, Y Soubabe, A Hennebry, D Hegarty, A Dineen, N O’Sullivan, J Mangan, D O’Regan, A Drummond, S Ryan.
S Long, J Hargrow, C De Bunes, J McCarthy, T O’Donnell, J Waite, A Galvin.
A Timmons (Dublin), John O’Connor (Dublin).