National Cup glory for Demons U20s as Jack O'Leary holds his nerve

Cork side defeated Tolka Rovers after a thrilling basketball decider in Tallaght
National Cup glory for Demons U20s as Jack O'Leary holds his nerve

Blue Demons' players celebrate with supporters. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

UCC Demons 76 Tolka Rovers 73 

UCC Demons were crowned U20 National Cup champions after an epic final against Tolka Rovers at the National Basketball Arena on Sunday with Jake Oriji, Jack O'Leary and Matthew McCarthy the top-scorers.

The Dubliners looked lively in the opening exchanges and with Sam Badejo posing Demons problems they surged into a five-point lead, 12-7, midway through the quarter.

It got worse for Demons as Tolka registered the next two baskets and suddenly the Leesiders trailed by nine points before a time-out was called out to steady the ship.

Credit to Demons they steadied the ship and reduced the deficit to two points before Tolka finished the quarter with a late basket that have them a four-point cushion 24-20 heading into the second quarter.

A stunning three from Ethan Farrelly gave the advantage back to Tolka and in the 14th minute, they had increased their lead to 10 points.

Demons Jack O’Leary wasn’t haven’t a particularly good day at the office in the early period and was substituted with no basket registered. To be fair O’Leary was reintroduced and looked sharper, going on to score 15, as Demons reduced the deficit to four points with three minutes remaining to the interval.

Both sides continued to make elementary errors but when Horgan shot outside the paint the Tolka lead was reduced to three points but some of Demons' turnovers were poor to say the least.

Blue Demons supporters during the tense decider. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane
Blue Demons supporters during the tense decider. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

Luckily for Demons, they finished with a Horgan fast break that helped them go in at the interval trailing by the minimum 37-36.

On the restart, Demons missed three easy baskets and with some of their shooting options crazy at times they failed to take advantage of Tolka Rovers' poor defending.

The game swung to and fro and entering the closing seconds both sides had an opportunity to take a lead into the final quarter but the sides were deadlocked at 54 points each.

Tolka moved up a gear and with Demons continuing to make basic mistakes the Dublin side took advantage to edge into in a five-point lead.

Make no mistake Demons looked in trouble as their defence was poor in getting stops but a Horgan three-pointer reduced the deficit to three points 64-61.

Once again Demons went into meltdown with some poor shooting and passing options and with 1.56 remaining Tolka Rovers had increased the six points.

A Hannigan three and two O’Leary free throws brought the minimum between the teams with 1.08 remaining and two more from the same player edged Demons ahead by the minimum with 36.9 seconds left.

Despite Demons getting an unsportsmanlike foul the outstanding free-throw shooting of O’Leary eventually saw Demons get over the line.

The Blue Demons team that landed the National Cup. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane
The Blue Demons team that landed the National Cup. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

Top scorers for UCC Demons: J Orji 16, J O’Leary 15, M McCarthy 14.

Tolka Rovers: E Faapito 22, B Curran 16, E Farrelly 12.

UCC DEMONS: 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.

TOLKA: A Biffi, M Kourouma, E T Farrelly, N Bartley, P Ogunsakin, E Dawson, E Faapito, S Badejo, D Callaly, M Conlon, L O’Brien, B Curran, J Giltenane, K Corr, J Castro, C Byrne, T Sanchez, R Ivanauskas.

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

MVP: Jack O’Leary (UCC Demons).

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Echo 130Echo 130

Echo WISA

Read all about the monthly winner’s and more.
Click Here

EL_music

Podcast: 1000 Cork songs 
Singer/songwriter Jimmy Crowley talks to John Dolan

Listen Here

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more