UCC Demons lift their fifth title
BASKETBALL NATIONAL CUP FINALS:UCC DEMONS’ head coach Douglas Leichner paid tribute to MVP Colin O’Reilly after the Irish international inspired the Cork side to the National Cup title with an 98-86 win over DART Killester at the National Basketball Arena yesterday. O’Reilly produced an outstanding display, hitting 26 points as Demons recorded their fifth National Cup success to top the roll of honour list.
“Colin O’Reilly is the MVP of the Superleague, let alone the National Cup,” said Leichner.
Killester got off to a flier with Robbie Clarke shooting a three to bring it to an eight-point game with less than two minutes remaining in the first quarter.
However, the Cork side bounced back in the closing stages of the quarter with strong offensive rebounding from Niall O’Reilly helping to close the gap to within four points (17-21) at the end of the first quarter. Killester’s Jim Grabowski opened the Dubliner’s account in the second quarter but Ryne Hamblet and Colin O’Reilly were doing their utmost to chip away at Killester’s lead.
Colin O’Reilly’s three-pointer with a minute before half-time confirmed the comeback and the sides were level at 36-36. Jerrah Young continued Demons’ revival with three before a basket from Niall Murphy gave UCC Demons a two-point lead at the interval 40-38.
Demons took control of the third with US star Jerrah Young proving instrumental, both offensively and defensively, while O’Reilly and Shane Coughlan helped to extend their lead to 64-52 as they prepared for the final quarter. Killester’s Paddy Kelly reduced the arrears to 10 points at the beginning of the final quarter. It proved a brief respite as Murphy hit a big three to give them a 12-point lead. Their dominance proved too much for Killester and they had built up a 20-point lead by the time Coughlan landed another big three.
Michael Westbrooks kept the reigning cup champions in the game but Demons were not going to be caught and a dunk from Hamblet provided further confirmation for the large Demons support. Pete Madsen hit a three in the closing stages but it proved too little too late as another dunk from Young confirmed Demons as champions on a scoreline of 98-86.
Meanwhile, Team Montenotte Hotel Cork made it three-in-a-row Women’s Superleague National Cup titles after seeing off Bausch and Lomb Wildcats 79-70. Irish international Niamh Dywer was confirmed as MVP after a performance which saw her contribute a tally of 24 points in the win.
“It is unbelievable, it is like a dream,” said Dwyer. “We were up by 15 points last season when we played them in the final so it was no surprise they started to come back into the game. They hit a couple of big shots but we kept our composure and were solid,” she added. “Everyone stepped up when we needed them. It is great to get the MVP but when you play with players like Jennifer Strong and Michelle Fahy I can’t imagine there was much to choose between any of us.”