Coláiste Cholmcille 2nd year Boys basketball team travelled to Báile an Chlair in Claregalway on Thursday to compete in the All Ireland Quarter finals. Their drawn pool consisted of Marian College Dublin, Granard Vocational School Longford and the host’s, winners of the Galway region, Báile an Chlair.
The first game against Marian College allowed the North West winners settle in and played well in a good team performance that settle the nerves. In this game, they dominated the defensive boards with Matt Gillespie, Conor Foy, Sam Greal and MVP for this game Kyle Murray with a personal tally of 10 points to the fore. As always, the Cholmcille lads played with a team effort and scored with ease against a struggling Marian College despite their larger physical size. The North West champions ran out comfortable winners in this one 53 – 12.
It was obvious from the first two games of the tournament that the two strong teams here were the hosts Báile an Chlair and the lads from Coláiste Cholmcille and so the second game for both teams was a winner take all game. This proved to be the case and both teams served up the game of the tournament. Bháile an Chlair were a big strong physical and were very dominant in the early stages of this game and the Coláiste Cholmcille lads found themselves trailing 14 – 0 with three minutes to go at the end of the first quarter. The lads from the North West were having great difficulty curbing the threat of the Báile an Chlair’s centre who was dominating the game on both ends of the court. Coach Kennedy called a time out, changed up the defence from man to man to zone, and encouraged the team to protect the paint to curtail the opposition offensive threat. The second quarter saw a change in the fives on court and with the introduction of Foy, Ryan Keenaghan and Kyle Mc Caffrey the Cholmcille lads really started to get after the game and were down by 6 at the half with a storming comeback.
The second half started with the same intensity as the previous one ended with both teams really going all out to win this crucial game. Coach Kennedy now had his strongest team on the floor and with Darragh Flood Dolan exemplary as a point guard, he controlled the tempo of the game and allowed McCaffrey and Keenaghan to cause havoc on the offensive plays with his movement of the ball while still threatening the outside shot himself. Indeed spectators’ were enthralled with the quality of play and the closeness of the two teams as they battled for superiority. Ryan Keenaghan was particularly impressive here and one of the highlights of the game was his full court run down of an opposition on his way to a lay-up and a clean check that had the entire bench on its feet. Foy, Murray, Greal and the ever-dependable Matt Gillespie continued to push the hosts all the way and their efforts were rewarded when Keenaghan was to be the hero again when he hit his second three pointer of the game to draw the game all level for the first time at 28 points apiece. Indeed Ryan Keenaghan’s efforts left him as MVP in this one and really played his Captain’s role. The Claregalway men were there for the taking now but somehow two unforced errors saw Coláiste Cholmcille give away two quick lay-ups to the opposition and give them some breathing space with two minutes to go. The Cholmcille lads never gave up however, and with two points in it and thirteen seconds left, Coach Kennedy had his last time out to salvage the game, unfortunately, the inbounds was intercepted and Báile an Chlair ran out winners by the narrowest of margins 36 – 34, leaving our lads heartbroken despite their great efforts. However, it will stand to this team and hopefully they have learned from the experience, they definitely developed and the school could not be prouder of how they represented the school all season long with a fantastic effort by all the team members. Looking forward to next season.