Tralee Warriors add Men’s National Cup crown to their growing list of honours

UCC Glanmire claim their eighth Women’s National Cup title

Kieran Donaghy of  Tralee Warriors claiming a rebound during the  Men’s National Cup final  against  Neptune at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght, Dublin.  Photograph:   Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Kieran Donaghy of Tralee Warriors claiming a rebound during the Men’s National Cup final against Neptune at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght, Dublin. Photograph: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

 

Former Kerry footballer Kieran Donaghy believes Tralee Warriors are capable of scaling even greater heights after adding a Men’s National Cup crown to their growing list of honours at the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght on Saturday.

Formed in 2016 as a collaboration between local clubs Tralee Imperials and St Brendan’s, Warriors were crowned Super League champions in 2019 having previously claimed back-to-back Champions Trophies (2017 and 2018). The Pat Duffy Cup was the missing piece in the jigsaw, but they finally crossed the line with an 88-75 victory against Neptune of Cork.

“We’ve got to build on it. We’ve got to build on Eoin Quigley. He’s the future of the club, an Irish international. The likes of Daniel Jokubaitis, who now is as Tralee as most of us. The two of those guys, they’re the future,” said Donaghy, who also won the competition on a brace of occasions with the now-defunct Tralee Tigers.

“We also have the possibility of guys who played with us, that went to America, and are now a year or two away from possibly coming back. It’s massive and the future is bright for the game. I’ve been to the Brendan’s Academy a lot. I’ve been to the Imperials Academy twice. You walk in and it’s basketball heaven. Everybody has a basketball. Everybody is doing the drills. The court is wedged.

“There’s hundreds of kids around the place and that’s what we wanted to create six years ago, and I’m delighted we did. I’m delighted that we got to see it through today.”

Scoring stakes

Leading 43-28 at half time, Warriors were never truly in danger of letting a golden opportunity slip from their grasp, and only briefly trailed at the beginning of the first quarter. Eventual MVP Jokubaitis and Aaron Calixte contributed 19 points apiece, while Quigley (14) and Donaghy (6) also helped out in the scoring stakes.

Nils Sabata (21), Roy Downey (17) and Aleix Tarradellas (11) did their utmost to keep Neptune in the reckoning, but the Leesiders ultimately fell short in their quest for a first National Cup triumph since 2013.

Whereas there was a degree of comfort to this Warriors success, UCC Glanmire were forced to go to the well before claiming their eighth Women’s National Cup title at the same venue yesterday. Trailing DCU Mercy by 12 points in the early stages of the final-quarter, the Cork side proceeded to outscore their Dublin opponents 26-7 and ultimately secure a superb 72-65 win.

Although team captain Aine McKenna and Tierney Pfirman did their part with 13 points each, a 21-point haul from Claire Melia made her a popular choice as MVP. As a student at Carlow IT, the Irish international faces a long trek up and down the country each week and acknowledged that Sunday’s victory against Mercy helped to make this sacrifice worthwhile.

“I’m travelling twice a week down there. Two hours down and two hours back, but it’s worth it on days like this. The move to Glanmire was such a good choice for me. I always wanted to be coached by Mark [Ingle]. I was happy to go down and be coached by him,” said Melia.

Blistering start

Glanmlre had made a blistering start to the contest – they led 17-7 midway through the opening period – before Bailey Greenberg and Alarie Mayze flexed their muscles to give DCU the upper hand. The American duo registered 47 points between them over the course of the action, but just when the north Dubliners looked set to prevail Melia and her team-mates dug deep to force the issue in their favour.

“We just needed a bit of lift in us and a bit of fight. Thank God we had it. Basketball can change at any time. When there was only five minutes left it still could have gone any way. We just had to stay pushing on and going until the final buzzer,” said Melia.

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