Moycullen basketball have claimed one of the biggest trophies in the underage game, winning this year’s Bill Kelly - the unofficial national u-17 boys championship
Named after a Cork Basketball official, it pre-dated the current u-18 and u-20 Cups, and for many years was the only national competition offering underage teams a chance to compete on a 32 county basis.
Moycullen have a long history of competing in this competition when current coach John Cunningham guested for a Corrib team coached by Mary Nihill in 1987. But despite a couple of final appearances, they had never won the tournament in 29 years until last weekend.
It came unexpectedly too, up against the local champions Maree who had never lost to Moycullen, setting up an all-Galway final.
Moycullen, determined to start well, were helped by John Hackett and David Kelly who shared 10 points inside, while Eoghan Kelly was edging his battle at the guard position with Eoghan Rockall.
Up seven at the end of the quarter, things looked good for Moycullen, and in a close second and third quarters, Moycullen still led by six going into the 4th, 39-33.
With Max Brennan doing a good containing job on Rockall and Eoghan Kelly running the game from the point, Moycullen lookd a different team. Although Kelly was forced out through injury with three minutes on the clock, Connor Curran, Max Brennan and the superb James Lyons shared the ball handling duties and the team defence proved well up to the task. Limiting Maree to just eight points in a quarter in which they scored 11 themselves, Moycullen claimed their “Holy Grail” by 50-41.
En route to the final Moycullen lost to Vincents by seven, overcame Ballincollig by 65-61 and Kilkenny by 51-25 to qualify from the pool before accounting for Fr Matthews 43-39, and favourites Neptune by 55-49.