St Mary’s College, Galway, have advanced to the second round of two National Cup basketball tournaments.
On Friday at home, St Mary’s edged both the u-16 and u-19 first round draws against Belvedere College and Ard Scoil Ris. The u-16s will now enjoy another home draw against Presentation Bray in a week’s time, while the u-19s face a difficult trek to Belfast to face one of the top schools in the country, St Malachy’s.
Both first round matches proved nail-biting affairs, but it was a particularly good result for the u-19 squad, that was short regulars Padraig Kearney and Ronan Higgins and was drawn mainly from last year’s successful u-16 team.
Mary’s, led by inside man Dale Creaven with 10 points, dominated the early proceedings leading 21-13 after 10 minutes. Creaven was to prove a hero for the local side, contributing 32 points for the winners.
The Dubliners, however, were far more direct and aggressive in the second quarter, matching Mary’s score for score. It ensured Mary’s still held an eight-point lead (44-36 ), but that was reduced to just four by the third quarter with Creaven, Sean Kelly and Darragh Mulkerrins keeping St Mary’s in contention.
A change of defence and some excellent offensive leadership from point guard Thomas Donovan and clinical finishing from Eoin Clancy and Creaven gave the home side the early advantage in the final quarter, and despite the best efforts of Ard Scoil, Mary’s came out 72-64 winners.
The u-16 match against Belvedere College was just as competitive with St Mary’s in front 42-35 at the finish. Captain Sean Kelly, playing his second game of the day, was unstoppable in the first quarter, scoring 10 of his side’s 13 points. That 13-4 lead was short lived as Cian O’Farrell and David Harding found the range for the Dubliners. Kelly aided by younger brother Eoghan and Isaac Francis kept the Galway lads in front but only just, leading 34-31 going into the last quarter.
Harding and Conor Liston continued to apply the pressure for Belvedere, but Kelly hit the last six points of his 20 total to ensure Mary’s advanced to the next round.
St Mary’s College u-19: D Creaven (20 ). G Garwe. D Mulkerrins (9 ), I Francis, A Ryan, K Coughlan, K Atu, B Chen (4 ), E Clancy (6 ), N Latiff, T Donovan(13 ), S Kelly (8 ).
St Mary’s College u-16: S Kelly (20 ), K Atu (2 ), I Francis (4 ), F Gillespie, K Virginio, C McOscair, K Costello (4 ), A Ibrahim, L Sila, M McDermott, G Mangan, E Kelly (12 ).