NUI Galway men’s basketball team won their first intervarsity in 23 years on Sunday with a dramatic last-minute win over University of UIster Jordanstown in the Kingfisher gym.
The NUI Galway side, managed by Puff Summers, cruised to the semi-final with easy wins over UCC, CIT and DIT, leaving them with a highly anticipated semi-final match-up against perennial powerhouses UCD, winners of three of the last four titles. It was in that contest that the home side truly emerged as legitimate contenders, winning with almost 30 points to spare and sending a warning to the clear favourites UUJ who emerged from their semi against DCU.
The two teams served up a classic in the final with NUI Galway shocking the odds and pulling off a memorable victory 61-60. With just 28 seconds to go, Dylan Cunningham became the hero, hitting the all-important free-throw to put the Tribesmen ahead for the first time in the game.
“To win it here in Galway is absolutely amazing, especially the way we did it. To be 16 points down in the fourth quarter and then go on a run like we did, with the crowd getting behind, was just incredible,” said team captain Cían Nihill.
The win is a reflection of the current strength of Galway basketball with the panel for the final made up entirely of local players. Moycullen player James Loughnane won the final most valuable player award with 22 points, while also securing the overall tournament MVP, joining Garnett Griffin and Cían Nihill on the tournament All-Star team.