Moycullen celebrated success in Basketball Ireland’s u-20 National Cup, overcoming favourites Belfast Star by 70-60.
It was a great result for the County Galway club and avenged defeat to the Belfast Star in the men’s under 18 cup final two years ago,
In a game which took until the second half to come to life, Stephen O’Brien was Moycullen’s key player with his long-range shooting proving vital in the Galway side’s win.
Poor shot selection and plenty of missed chances was the theme of the opening quarter as both sides adjusted to the cup final stage. Belfast Star captain Conor Quinn was the most energetic, regularly attacking at speed and causing problems for Moycullen, who held the lead at the end of a cagey first quarter 17-13.
However Moycullen’s inability to make shots in the first quarter was not evident in the second. Two well-taken three-point shots from Stephen O’Brien was just as good as anything Belfast could do.
John Largey of Belfast was off the mark with two points and a free throw, which was Belfast’s only free throw attempt in the whole first half, reflecting Moycullen’s ability to defend efficiently.
Moycullen led at half time by of 35-31, and after the resumption Stephen O’Brien continued to cause problems for the Belfast defence. He weaved his way into a scoring position and scored the close range shot to open the third quarter. Liam Pettigrew and John Largey kept the scoreboard moving on Belfast’s behalf, but O’Brien again showed his dominance when scoring a layup following a steal on Sean Joe Rooney.
Conor Quinn and Rory Gilson exchanged scores for both sides as the game took on a rhythm of one team scoring, followed by the other, but Moycullen then kept the Belfast side at bay to lead 50-47 at the end of the third.
Moycullen always held the advantage and when O’Brien landed another three-pointer to open up a five-point lead, Moycullen were on their way.
Rory Gilson scored a layup off a fast defensive break after severe Belfast pressure, which turned out to be the final nail in Belfast’s coffin as the Galway side prevailed.
“There's good steel in these boys,” said Moycullen coach Nollaig Cunningham. “We knew Star were good. The lads have played against them in schools and club. It was always going to be a tough game. The pressure defence tired them out so we could knock down the shots in the end. That's how it works.”
Moycullen top scorers: Rory Gilson 17, Stephen O’Brien 15, Kyle Cunningham 14, Sean Candon 9, Joseph Tummon 9.
MVP: Stephen O’Brien
Moycullen: Conor Egan, Joseph Tummon, Sean Kelly, Kyle Cunningham, Connor Curran, Jack Costelloe, Dara O Sullivan, Stephen O’Brien, Darragh Mulkerrins, Rory Heffernan, Rory Gilson, Eoghan Kelly, Sean Candon.