ST COLUMB’S College’s U19 basketball squad suffered heartbreak in the Subway All-Ireland Schools U19B Cup Final in one of the closest games of the tournament in Dublin on Tuesday afternoon.
The Buncrana Road school agonisingly lost out to Co. Kerry side, Castleisland Community College by 45-41 in a hugely entertaining final National Basketball Arena in Tallaght which was streamed live on the Basketball Ireland YouTube channel.
It was a two-possession game throughout the 40 minutes and the sides were still level with less than one minute remaining.
Castleisland had early control on the offensive boards but that hadn’t registered on the scoreboard until Shane O’Connell got closer to the basket.
By then, St. Columb’s registered three-pointers from Danann Coyle and Kevin Brady. Joe McGinley followed up with a strong drive from the half-court but it was back to 12-6 when O’Connell slipped the ball inside to Eoghan Browne just before the first quarter buzzer.
St Columb’s looked to penetrate more in the second period with Jack Knox making gains while Castleisland were happy to lurk at the perimeter. They book ended the quarter with three-pointers from Alex Fleming and Padraig O’Connell and Shane O’Connell took his tally to eight points for the half on a 9-4 run.
It was 20-20 at the break and the sides were still tied at 32-32 10 minutes later. Ireland U16 International Ryan Whoriskey came into the game with a couple of baskets while Castleisland’s usual suspects kept them in the hunt. It was a game of small margins, so it was going to take some big shots to win it.
Nathan Nolan’s big three-pointer had game winner all over it but there was still time for St. Columb’s to hit back through Coyle and Whoriskey.
The big opportunity didn’t fall to Padraig O’Connell – he created it. The young substitute created space with a pump-fake before shooting for two with 22 seconds left and Jonathan Hilliard sealed the game from the free-throw line.
Castleisland Community College: Jonathan Hillard 1, Alex Fleming 5, Shane O’Connell 12, Nathan Nolan 7, Adam Nolan. Substitutes: Eodhan Browne 4, Jack Curran, Ryan Maguire, Sean O’Connell, Sean O’Connell, Padraig O’Connell 16, Seamus Barry, Patrick Horan.
St Columb’s College: Kevin Brady 7, Ryan Whoriskey 14, Danann Coyle 17, Jack Knox, John Bonner 2. Substitutes: Joe McGinley, Aaron King 1, Lee Meehan.
MVP: Danann Coyle (St Columb’s).