SSE Airtricity Moycullen have qualified for the Superleague National Cup semi-final stage for the first time after successive wins over Belfast Star.
It was an excellent win on the road for Moycullen winning by 84-80, and by five points on aggregate 156- 151 having edged the first leg at homeby 72-71.
It was a slow start to the game as both teams struggled to find their shooting rhythm. Philip Lawrence-Ricks carried the offensive load early for Moycullen, converting two three-pointers and also knocking down some contested midrange jump shots. Paul Freeman dominated the boards, picking up nine rebounds in the first quarter and finishing the game with 18 in total. However, Belfast Star refused to back down and their American continued to harass Moycullen’s big men from the inside. It was a tight game to finish the quarter, with the score 20-19 to SSE Airtricity Moycullen.
Both teams came firing out of the gates to start the second quarter. Joseph Tummon and Kyle Cunningham made an instant impact on entering the game. Cunningham scored an acrobatic layup and assisted on a number of scores, while Summon scored three impressive shots from behind the three-point line and also hit a tough fade away over a helpless defender. James Loughnane controlled the game from the point, finding his teammates for scores and picking up six assists in the process. Despite Moycullen’s good defence, Belfast Star’s guards continued to hit shot after shot, and the game remained neck-and-neck going into the second half, with both teams tied 46-46.
Moycullen got off to a rocky start in the third quarter as Belfast began to exploit holes in the Moycullen defence. Moycullen guards Patrick Lyons and Conor Curran attacked the basket wolfishly, but good ball movement from Belfast star allowed them to find their shooters for open looks. However Belfast pulled away for a 70-61.
Moycullen, however, quickly got back into the game in the final quarter, thanks to two three-pointers from Dylan Cunningham. Belfast had no answer for Philip Lawrence-Ricks, who hit a number of seemingly impossible pull-up jump shots over his defender. He also finished above the rim for two emphatic dunks, swinging the momentum in Moycullen’s favour. Belfast Star were tenacious to the end, but a series of great defensive stops for Moycullen ensured a four-point win on the night, and their first cup semi-final.
Bish qualify for schools semi-final
The St Joseph's College, Galway (the Bish ) have powered their way into an U16A Schools Cup national semi final where they face St Joseph's Drogheda.
The Galway school produced a comprehensive 73-55 win over De La Salle in Waterford last Friday in their quarter final.
Irish International James Connaire led the scoring for the Bish with Darragh McNulty, Iarlaith O’Sullivan and James Cummins also in impressive shooting form. Both Ryan Hornet and Aaron Kiernan dominated the offensive and defensive board.
These young Bish basketball players are also in serious preparation for the International Student Federation World Schools Championships. The Bish (boys ) and Holy Faith Clontarf (girls ) last year qualified to represent Ireland in the bi-annual U18 World Schools Championships that are being held in Porec, Croatia in April 2017. On a previous occasion Calasanctius College Oranmore qualified and represented Ireland in the ISF World Championships in both Brazil and China. This is the first time the Bish have qualified to represent Ireland in the World Championships. The Bish will welcome the return in January of their captain James Lyons from a serious leg injury which prevented him from travelling with the Irish National team to the U16 European Championships in Sofia last July at the last minute.
The Bish winning U16A basketball team: Back (L-R ): B De Souza, R Hornet, A Kiernan, T Toher, I O'Sullivan, J Connaire, J Wall, T O'Malley. Front (L-R ): J Cummins, D McNulty, S Barron, B Gaffney, M Sweeney, G Powell.