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Rugby: Fintan's made to work for victory

Templeogue College turned in a terrific display at the National Arena in yesterday's All Ireland Schoolboys Cup U16A Cup semi-final which went right down to the wire.

Under the guidance of coach Philip Rigney, they were within a hare's whisker of pulling off a mighty upset against a school who know all about the big days in Tallaght.

But cometh the hour, cometh the man and in Dean Creegan Fintan's had the player for the job.

Creegan had in the latter stages of the game snuffed out of the threat of Templeogue's star man Baolach Morrison, who hit some inspirational baskets early on.

But it was further upcourt that Creegan was to ultimately make his mark when with eight seconds to go he landed a huge three-pointer to put Fintan's ahead for the first time since the first quarter.

And the third-year student then sealed the deal when he converted one of his free throws as Fintan's set up a meeting with Presentation Bray next Tuesday at Basketball Ireland headquarters.

The outlook did not look great for the Sutton boys up until then, with the Dublin 6W outfit managing to keep Irish under-16 and Killester man Mikey Deegan under close wraps.

Deegan had landed a basket just before the end of the first quarter to leave Fintan's trailing 12-11, but Templeogue then hit them with two quick baskets from Eoin Walsh and Brian Thiessan.

And although Fintan's big inside man Andy Colfer was to keep them in touch with two important baskets, the Northsiders were knocked right back by Morrison who drained back-to-back three pointers from midcourt to engineer a 24-17 lead at the interval.



TURNAROUND

Fintan's put on the press after the turnaround with baskets each side of a Conor McCracken two-pointer eating into the Templeogue lead.

And although Templeogue maintained their lead courtesy of scores from Cian McKeown and Thiessan, Fintan's managed to find a way past the Templeogue defence when Gary Barron landed a score from just outside the three-point line to leave just one point in it, 29-28, at the end of the third to Templeogue.

And so we were set up for a terrific final quarter and it duly lived up to expectations with both teams going flat-out for victory.

And it was basket for basket throughout with baskets from Eoin Walsh and Chris Straessle cancelled out at the other end by efforts from Creegan and Deegan.

An intercept and lay-up from Templeogue's impressive point guard Anton McDonnell, however, was to establish a four-point lead for Templeogue heading down the stretch.

Fintan's remained dogged in their pursuit of their opponents with Deegan levelling proceeding courtesy of a three-point play and one from the line to tie the game at 37 points each.

Walsh, having drawn the foul, then went to the line to convert one of his free throws with now just two minutes and 10 seconds left on the clock.

But having won back possession inside the final minute, Fintan's then landed what proved to be the killer basket when Creegan from the right side of the court sunk a terrific three-pointer.

Creegan followed that up with a one-point free with a late effort from Templeogue hitting the top of the boards in what proved to be the final action of a pulsating game.

Templeogue College: Anton McDonnell, Brian Thiessan, Chris Straessle, Cian McKeown, Baolach Morrison, Conor Kinsella, Daniel Murphy, Chris Bass, Yaz Tamil, Kieran Doherty, Eoin Walsh

St Fintan's HS: Raymond Kavanagh, Stephen Conway, Mikey Deegan, Simon Leonard, Gary Barron, Dylan Kessie, Carl McGovern, Luke McGuinness, Dylan Mulligan, Conor McCracken, Dean Creegan, Andy Colfer