U19A Boys All Ireland Schools Cup Final
Ard Scoil Rathangan 70, St. Eunan’s Letterkenny 67
Ard Scoil Rathangan staged a remarkable comeback to claim the U19A Boys All Ireland Schools Cup at the National Basketball Arena. The Kildare side were 28 points down to St. Eunan’s of Letterkenny in the third quarter but a 21-0 run and some impressive defence saw them come back to claim a memorable win.
St. Eunan’s were cruising as their backcourt players Sean McGettigan and Mathias Traulsen created angles for each other in the opening quarter. Andrew McGeever looked every inch the big game player as he dropped points from a number of spots. It was 17-6 for the quarter and things were looking ominous for Rathangan when Mark Thornton was sprung from the bench in the second stanza.
He sprung from everywhere, really. His athleticism and timing saw him out jump Rathangan’s big men to 8 points in the second half and freed up McGeever outside to notch 3 three-pointers.
McGeever had 15 points for the half and it was 41-18 to St. Eunan’s. Basketball Ireland’s webcast of the game lost traffic as neutrals lost interest in a potential blow out. It got worse. Matthew Deeney was the latest player in black to make buckets and the lead out to 28 points midway through the third quarter.
The Kildare faithful were grateful that Rathangan hadn’t completely thrown in the towel. Maughan looked to have found his range and James Byrne got his timing right to pick up a couple of points off offensive boards. Conor O’Loughlin got the last score of the quarter and there were 22 points in it heading into the last ten minutes.
And then, ‘Click’.
“Shane Maughan opened up the game with his outside shooting and the full-court press changed it,” said Rathangan Head Coach Nacola Nerney.
Maughan drained three deep-twos. Aaron Whelan got four clear runs to the basket once the press kicked in. He had been carrying a strapped ankle and now he was weightless. James Byrne was barking orders to keep St. Eunan’s honest on their possessions. It was a 21-0 run. The Arena was shaking.
St. Eunan’s were now without Mark Thornton who landed on his arm from a high flying layup and Mathias Traulsen soon followed on five fouls. McGeever was still on court and his three-pointer was the kind of shot that should kill off a team with notions about themselves. But Rathangan’s support weren’t going to accept anything other than a fairy tale. Ciaran Maher toughed it out from the free throw line and when he fouled out, the responsibility fell to substitute Connor O’Loughlin. Not a bother on him. A put back. A layup. St. Eunan’s weren’t out of fight, but they were out of time. Fairy tale accomplished.
“We started in the ‘C’ all them years ago in first year. We could never have dreamed of a day like this,” said MVP Maughan.
Nacola Nerney has been with them every step of the way.
“At half time, I would have hated for them to lose by 20 points because they are an amazing bunch of kids. St. Eunan’s were super out there today as well but they found it hard to beat our press.”
Top Scorers St Eunans: Andrew McGeever 24, Matthew Deeney 14, Sean McGettigan 11
Top Scorers Ard Scoil Rath Iomgháin: James Byrne 21, Shane Maughan 19, Ciaran Maher 15
Half Time Score: St. Eunan’s Letterkenny 41, Ard Scoil Rathangan 18
MVP: Shane Maughan (Ard Scoil Rathangan)