Galway is celebrating success on the national basketball stage after all three schools in All Ireland League finals secured national titles.
The Bish, The Jes, and Gort Community School completed an unbeaten run for Galway schools in the National Basketball Arena in Tallaght.
The Bish secured the u-19A crown with a 61-56 win over Summerhill College, Sligo; the Jes took the u-16B title with a 55-45 victory over IS Killorglin; and Gort CS won the u-16C girls in a thrilling three-point win over Colaiste Chroí Naofa of Carraig na bhFear, Cork, to add to their cup win.
U19A Boys All Ireland Schools League final:
St Joseph’s Bish Galway 61, Summerhill College 56
In an all-Connacht affair, captain Kyle Cunningham showed why he is a big part of the Irish u-18 team. Producing crucial scores when it was most needed, he led his team to the title, helped in no small measure by Rory Heffernan who showed great resolve throughout to control the game from the point. Jonatanas Pesaitis was another huge presence under the offensive and defensive boards, opening up options for shooters Connor Curran, Dara O’Sullivan, Josh Marvesley and John Hackett.
The Nun’s Island school was 10 points clear at half time (34-24 ), but they were forced to weather a strong comeback from Summerhill to eventually prevail.
In a pulsating final quarter, Summerhill moved into striking distance with some stellar shooting from deep, with four big three-pointers from Summerhill’s Cian Lally and a Philip Hamilton dunk.
Although Connor Curran squeezed in a three-pointer and converted a fine up-and-under to keep Summerhill at bay, there were just two points between the sides with 30 seconds remaining after Hamilton scored again.
With Summerhill in the paint in search of an equaliser, Josh Marvesley pulled off a super intercept that gave the Bish a chance to seal the win from the free throw line. Kyle Cunningham was on hand to ice both shots and guide his team to its first senior A title.
Bish head coach Ross Conboy said it was a proud moment for the school.
“ The u-19A gold has eluded us in the school until today and we always knew it would be difficult as we do not have a transition year in our school so the senior teams are much younger than most other senior teams every year. However these boys were magnificent today.”
St Joseph’s Bish top scorers: Kyle Cunningham 16, Josh Marvesley 14, Conor Curran 13.
U16B Boys All Ireland Schools League final
Intermediate School Killorglin 45, Coláiste Iognáid (Jes ) 55
Coláiste Iognáid, having lost semi-finals for the past three years, finally secured the national u-16 title with victory over Intermediate School of Killorglin.
The Jes raced into an 8-0 lead, but Killorglin roared back in contention through the outside shooting by Liam Croke and Eoin O’Sullivan to take the lead at the end of the first quarter.
However the second quarter was all Coláiste Iognáid. Evan Somers hit a couple of three-pointers, Mark Convery took his first-half tally to 10 points, and Lorcan O Mordha and Jack Browne scored fast breaks to help the Jes win the quarter by 17, making it 28-12 at half time.
The Jes continued to shut down ISK in the paint in the third quarter. It was a scrappy enough period with no momentum for either team, but Roan Moriarty’s three-pointer spurred ISK to life.
Trailing by 18 points going into the final quarter, IS Killorglin switched to a full court press and the Jes struggled to adjust. However, with a time out to get the Jes back on track, Mark Convery was to the fore again, while Lorcan O’Mordha scored three crucial consecutive baskets to seal the victory.
“The lads are used to tough basketball matches and it stood to us,” said coach Adrian O’Neill. “This team have lost three semi-finals in the past three years and now we have finally won the final. I’m over the moon.”
Coláiste Iognáid top scorers: Lorcan O Mordha 20, Mark Convery 13, Evan Somers 12.
MVP: Mark Convery (Coláiste Iognáid )
U16C Girls All Ireland Schools League final
Gort CS 45, Coláiste Chroí Naofa 39
Gort completed their perfect season with a 45-39 win over Colaiste Chroí Naofa of Carraig na bhFear Cork at the National Basketball Arena to add the League crown to the U16C cup they won earlier in the season.
Colaiste Chroí Naofa recovered from a nervy start to take an early lead through the outside shooting of Myra O’Sullivan before Lisa Della Chiesa went on a 5-0 run for a double-score lead for the first quarter.
A big basket from Aine Murphy meant Gort CS had a five-point cushion at half time, but they needed to regain their composure in defence, and through Kate Tarpey and Ciara Helebert, they maintained the five-point lead heading into the last eight minutes.
Captain Olga Bourke led the way down the stretch, shrugging off an injury to pick up four points in the paint, while Lisa Della Chiesa was both creator and converter on the fast break. With the help of Edel Nolan, Gort finished stronger.
Gort coach Pat Bourke said: “It took 20 years to win the first title, so to pick up two in the space of a month is huge bonus for us.”
Gort CS top scorers: Olga Burke 18, Lisa Della Chiesa 14, Aine Murphy 8. MVP: Lisa Della Chiesa (Gort CS )