War­riors down Demons in stun­ning Cup come­back

The Kerryman (North Kerry) - - SPORT - BY ALAN CANTWELL

FOR the first time in their short his­tory, Gar­vey’s Tralee War­riors are through to the semi fi­nal of the Hula Hoops Pat Duffy Na­tional Cup af­ter over­com­ing UCC Demons in a pul­sat­ing and at times dra­matic quar­ter-fi­nal at the Tralee Sports Com­plex on Sun­day af­ter­noon.

The War­riors looked like ex­it­ing the com­pe­ti­tion mid­way through the third quar­ter be­fore two big three point scores from Fer­gal O’Sul­li­van kick­started a come­back to res­cue the game from the brink and ul­ti­mately see the home side over­power their keen ri­vals in the fi­nal quar­ter. How­ever up to that point it looked like the game had only one likely win­ner as Demons pow­ered their way through the first two quar­ters to lead by 16 at half time with the War­riors un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally strug­gling at both ends of the court.

The lively Bran­don Watts was on the mark for Demons twice in quick suc­ces­sion early in the first but Kieran Don­aghy and Dar­ragh O’Han­lon also found the tar­get for War­riors. Jor­dan Evans hit the first three of the af­ter­noon for the hosts be­fore Girts Laz­dans replied in kind the leave the sides level. Colin O’Reilly, Kyle Hos­ford and Laz­dans com­bined to push Demons 17-9 ahead but Paul Dick, Evans and Du­san Bog­danovic all hit scores to cut the gap to a sin­gle point. Keith Jumper lev­elled the scores with his first of the day but Watts fired in from both in­side and out to see Demons lead 23-18 at quar­ter time.

Don­aghy opened the scor­ing again in the sec­ond for War­riors with the very first play and Paul Dick added two from the line to leave a sin­gle point be­tween the sides. Demons then em­barked on a stun­ning scor­ing spree net­ting a quick fire 20 points through Carl­ton Cuff, Colin O’Reilly, Laz­dans and Watts to lay down the gaunt­let to War­riors as they opened up a 17 point lead. Bog­danovic and Paul Dick hit back with scores to stem the blue and white tide but the elu­sive Watts fin­ished of the half with an­other score from close range to see Demons take a 47-31 lead to the long break.

Ja­nis Dum­burs pro­vided the War­riors with the per­fect start by get­ting to the board early in the third but de­spite Evans with a three and Don­aghy with a lay up, Demons con­tin­ued their of­fen­sive at­tack on the War­riors net through Cuff, Watts and Colin O’Reilly to see the Leesiders build on their half time lead to go 57-39 up. Paul Dick kept the War­riors in touch with scores from in­side and out but as Laz­dans and O’Reilly fired Demons back out to a 16 point lead, Fer­gal O’Sul­li­van sparked a badly needed revival for the home side with a trade­mark three and re­peated the feat with an­other crack­ing ef­fort af­ter Keith Jumper had con­verted free throws to cut the gap to a more man­age­able 9. The pas­sion­ate War­riors fol­low­ing sensed the mo­men­tum shift back to the hosts and were on their feet when Paul Dick and Bog­danovic both laid up. When Eoin Quigley con­verted two free throws to cut the gap to just four they were yelling for more.

The War­riors revival con­tin­ued un­abated in the early stages of the fi­nal quar­ter with Paul Dick and Bog­danovic adding to level the score at 64 apiece. Demons re­gained the ini­tia­tive briefly with a Colin O’Reilly three but the vis­i­tors were hit with back to back blows when both Carl­ton Cuff and the very ef- fec­tive Girts Laz­dans ran out of fouls and watched the re- main­der of this epic con­test from the bench. O’Sul­li­van drove to the board to score and add the ex­tra for War­riors and when Paul Dick con­verted two from two the home side took the lead for the first time in the game. The Com­plex was ab­so­lutely rock­ing now as Evans and Don­aghy added to pile the pres­sure on Demons but Niall O’Reilly and Watts hit back to keep the out­come in the bal­ance.

Evans then hit a stun­ning three to push the War­riors ad­van­tage out to a po­ten­tially game win­ning six points. But the hosts were al­most im­me­di­ately hit with a dou­ble blow with Kieran Don­aghy and Eoin Quigley both reach­ing five fouls. War­riors Coach Pat Price had to quickly re­think his ro­ta­tions as sud­denly the game was back in the bal­ance. Demons cut the gap to a sin­gle score when the O’Reilly broth­ers added a score each but Quigley eased the War­riors nerves with a lay up un­der the board. Colin O’Reilly hit two from two and David Le­hane made one from two to leave just a sin­gle point be­tween the sides in the shadow of the post. The War­riors were how­ever to see the game out with Paul Dick as­sist­ing Bog­danovic to fire in and Evans dunked spec­tac­u­larly much to the de­light of the ec­static War­riors faith­ful. In the fi­nal act of this epic bat­tle Bog­danovic arced in the fi­nal score of the day from the line to see the War­riors pre­vail by 85-79 in the end.

Gar­vey’s Tralee War­riors face Py­ro­bel Killester in the Pat Duffy Na­tional Cup semi-fi­nal in Cork on the week­end of Jan­uary 12 and 13.

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