Coláiste Ailigh Letterkenny 39, PobailScoil Neasáin 34 - Some terrific free-throw shooting down the stretch saw Coláiste Ailigh shade this U16 'C' cup decider at the National Basketball Arena on Tuesday.
With four minutes to go, the Donegal men headed their Baldoyle rivals by five points. But when most valuable player Gabriel Ogundipe and Sean Smith came back at them with two brilliant baskets, it looked as if this game would go down to the wire.
However, Coláiste Ailigh showed their character when it mattered most with Maitís Mac Ceallabhuí and Jaic Mac Ceallabhuí holding their nerve to land three out of four from the free-throw line.
As mentioned, Ogundipe collected the MVP award and it was richly deserved. Apart from being the game's top scorer with 16 points, he also made 18 rebounds and four blocks.
His strength and balance was certainly a big asset to the Baldoyle boys but, more importantly, his ability to pick off scores under pressure served his team well.
The first quarter had seen Coláiste Ailigh open up a double-score lead, with Oisín ó Cléirigh very much the key player as he registered three early baskets.
And while Ogundipe was already proving himself to be a formidable threat, Coláiste Ailigh were to register scores each side of a Donnacha Butler-intercepted basket to lead 18-10 at the end of the quarter.
Pobailscoil Neasáin began the second quarter impressively, with back-to-back baskets from Seán Smith and Evening Herald Sports Star of the Week Kevin Murphy again showing good distribution.
And by the interval, Pobailscoil Neasáin were just four points in arrears at 24-20. Paul Shannon then came off the bench to twice tie the game for them.
However, a terrific drop shot from Sean Mac a tSaoir combined with a late basket from ó Cléirigh were enough to put Coláiste Ailigh back in front, 30-28, heading into the final quarter.
And while Ogundipe again demonstrated his mastery of the ball with another excellently executed basket, Evin Breathnach and then Maitís Mac Ceallabhuí grabbed the crucial turnovers in the final minutes to secure victory for the Ulstermen.
SCORERS - Coláiste Ailigh, Letterkenny 39 (ó Cléirigh 15, S Mac a tSaoir 9, E Breathnach 6), Pobail Scoil Neasáin, Baldoyle 34 (G Ogundipe 16, S Smith 8, P Shannon 4)
Coláiste Ailigh: Aodh ó Mearlachainn, Pádraig ó Riain, Niall Ó hEannagáin, Adam ó Cnámhsaí, Jaic Mac Ceallabhuí, Piaras ó Gallachóir, Evin Breathnach, Seán Mac a tSaoir, Maitís Mac Ceallabhuí, Oisín ó Cléirgh, Odhrán Mac Fhionnghaile, Caomhín Mac Lochlainn.
Pobail Scoil Neasáin: Sean Smith, Matt Deegan, Donnacha Butler, Aaron Kelly McRory, Kevin Murphy, Gabriel Ogundipe, Adam Cox, Darren Cooper, Phillip Roche, Paul Shannon.