Loftus Recycling 93
Sligo All Stars 76
In the end, Team Loftus Recycling had a decisive victory in this National League (Division 1 ) game against neighbours, Sligo All Stars, in Mercy College, Sligo, but a series of defensive errors and poor passes resulted in the home side having a 4-point lead at the end of the first quarter and being just a single point adrift at half-time. However a strong third quarter performance by Ballina, and a massive 36-point game tally by Paul Barrett, saw the visitors finish the game with a comfortable victory.
Loftus Recycling started the game with Liam MacHale, Paul Barrett, Peter Papic, Willie Popplewell, and Colm Leonard but used their entire squad throughout the game. Sligo were first off the mark with 2 points from Fergal Kelly but Popplewell quickly responded for Ballina and a closely fought first quarter saw the lead change hands a number of times before Ian McMorow nailed two baskets just before the break to give the home side a 24-20 lead at the end of the period.
In the second quarter, most of the scores for Loftus Recycling came from Pater Papic, who hit 12 points, while Sligo’s top scorer, Shane O’Meara, replied with a similar tally for his team. Thanks to Papic’s industry and a 3-pointer from Barrett, Loftus Recycling had built up 9-point lead (39-30 ) with less than four minutes left in the quarter. However, some wayward passes and defensive lapses let the All Stars right back into the game and they reduced the deficit to a single point at half-time (41-40 ).
Loftus Recycling coach Oisin Ginty introduced veteran Deora Marsh at the start of the third period and his experience, along with that of Liam Mac Hale, steadied the Ballina defence while Paul Barrett gave a shooting exhibition hitting three of his six 3-pointers during this period and adding a further 4 points from inside the 3-point line. Papic hit another 6 points and Mac Hale chipped in with 3-pointer for good measure. O’Meara and McMorrow worked hard for Sligo but the home side only managed to score 12 points in this quarter compared with a tally of 39 for the visitors.
While the game was effectively over as a contest going into the final period, full credit must go to Sligo who continued to battle hard and, once again, it was O’Meara’s hard work that kept his side in touch until he was fouled out of the game with less than two minutes left on the clock. However, with his side holding a 20-point lead half way through the quarter, Oisin Ginty withdrew both MacHale and Marsh and used the opportunity to give court time to all of his younger players. While Sligo rallied to some degree, they never managed to get closer than the 17 points that separated the sides at the end of the game.
Loftus Recycling: Paul Barrett (36 ), Taofik Mustapha (8 ), Liam McHale (15 ), Deora Marsh (3 ), Willie Popplewell (6 ), Stephen Popplewell, Gavin Roche, Peter Papic (22 ), Colm Leonard (4 ), Lamar Marsh, Colin O’Malley.
Sligo All Stars: Shane O’Meara (28 ), Fergal Kelly (6 ), Ian McMorrow (17 ), Sean McGowan (6 ), Daragh McGarrity (9 ), Jean Baptise Cayla (3 ), Glen Monaghan, Greg Kelly.