It was a tighter match that the scoreline suggests but rarely missing any chances was what gave Cnoc Mhuire, Granard a hard-fought victory over a well-drilled Pobail Scoil Inbhear Sceine (Kenmare) side.
The sides matched each other for the first half but the Longford school’s killer scoring instinct helped them to victory in the U-16B boys All Ireland Schools Cup final.
Throughout the first half of this tremendous match, there was never more than three points between the sides. Pobail Scoil Inbhear (PSI) had the better first quarter. The diminutive Sean O’Shea opened the scoring with a beautiful three-pointer, soon followed by a score from Patrick Spillane, son of GAA and Kerry legend Pat.
Kenmare’s captain Stephen O’Sullivan was heavily involved in proceedings and snuck in a two-pointer to give his team an 8-11 lead before Russell Brady pegged them back at the other end. Spillane then scored from right under the board with a lovely scooping motion before Granard’s captain and MVP on the day Cian Brady pulled two points back.
The second quarter saw Granard take the lead for the first time when Cathal Lynch dropped a two-pointer (14-13). A fairly even exchange of scores amid some terrific defending by the Longford school saw the teams leave the court at half-time to huge applause of appreciation from the crowd. Cnoc Mhuire led 20-17.
There must have been something in the half-time drinks in the Cnoc Mhuire dressing room – they emerged with renewed vigour and tenacity. Score after score dropped for them despite the constant threat from the Kenmare School.
Six unanswered scores, notably from the impressive Ronan Williams and Brady saw the Longford school stretch into a 33-19 lead. At the other end, Kenmare’s first score of the half was a brilliant passing move down the left-hand side ending with O’Shea netting for two.
The game was being played at a frantic pace and moved like lightening from one end to the other. The players were visibly blowing hard resulting in a terrific spectacle. The quarter ended with Cnoc Mhuire leading 35-23.
The scoring trend continued into the final quarter with Cnoc Mhuire getting the first two scores to open up an impressive 16-point lead.
For the final four and a half minutes, PSI worked their socks off to reduce the margin, with Spillane central to their late points. But Cnoc Mhuire rarely attacked without adding to the scoreboard and lifted the cup after a 46-30 victory.
Cnoc Mhuire Granard Longford 46 (20) (C Brady, 12 R Brady 6,R Williams 5)
Pobail Scoil Inbhear Kenmare 30 (17) (S O´Sullivan 9, S O´Shea 7,P Spillane 6)
(Report courtest of Basketball Ireland)