LYIT DONEGAL’S hopes of reaching the Hula Hoops Men’s President’s Cup final were dashed in Cork this afternoon.
Tradehouse Central Ballincollig 88 LYIT Donegal 80
Niall McDermott’s team had been in front by five points at half-time, but Tradehouse Central Ballincollig came good in the third quarter.
Ballincollig had enough in the tank to stave off a gallant comeback from the Donegal outfit at the Parochial Hall and it is the third final in a row for the Cork side to reach the final.
LYIT Donegal led 39-34 at half-time, but Ballincollig’s blistering start to the third quarter proved vital.
With Andre Nation and Inigio Zabola on song, they enjoyed an 11-point turnaround to lead 47-41.
An Andrew McGeever basket kept LYIT Donegal in check, but things were threatening to run away from the Donegal side as Ciaran O’Sullvian and Nation converted free throws.
Right on the buzzer of the third quarter, McGeever – who top-scored for his tam with 19 – brought LYIT Donegal’s deficit back into single figures, with Ballincollig 65-56 ahead.
Charlie McKinney’s silky score gave LYIT Donegal real hope, but Ciaran O’Sullivan quickly opened a 12-point lead with just over seven minutes left.
A huge three-pointer by McGeever – a National Cup winner with Killester last season – helped revive LYIT Donegal’s challenge, but the damage had been done.
Nation and Ronan O’Sullivan were to the fore in the first quarter with LYIT Donegal trailing by a slender 16-15 margin.
Among the highlights in that opening period for LYIT Donegal was a majestic three-pointer by Killian Gribben.
The 16-year-old Letterkenny Blaze prospect, who only made his debut last week in the 84-73 win at Fr Mathews, landed a beauty from the left-hand side to put his side 10-9 in front.
Nation, energised in the early moments by the home support, led 7-4 before McGeever and Gribben responded.
It was tit-for-tat, with Dom Uhl reducing the arrears right at the close of the opening quarter as he just about beat the shot clock for a score.
Two three-pointers by McGeever and a further three-pointer by McKinney helped LYIT Donegal keep in front during the second quarter.
Gribben showed maturity beyond his years with an excellent throw for three as LYIT Donegal’s confidence rose.
With Nation – the game’s top scorer with 34 points – still causing havoc, the lead was never more than three until the closing moments.
There, Manny Payton and Uhl widened the margin and, with seconds left, Gribben – who had provided a couple of assists earlier – made it 39-34 at half-time.
Ballincollig roared from the blocks at the outset of the third quarter and it was the damage inflicted here that, ultimately, meant the margin was too much.Tags: