St. Malachy’s are the U19A Boys champions in the Pinergy All-Ireland Schools Cup after a dramatic 54-53 win over Mercy Secondary School Mounthawk in a thrilling encounter at the National Basketball Arena. The excellent Daniel Bowler drew a foul as the clock ran out and had two free throws to win it for Mercy Secondary School Mounthawk, only for neither to land, handing Adrian Fulton’s side a dramatic win.
For St. Malachy’s, Ryan Calo notched 16 points on the way to claiming the MVP, while Jake McCotter top scored for the victors, on 17 points. Bowler was Mercy Secondary School Mounthawk’s top scorer on 15 points, while Donal O’Sullivan and Eddie Sheehy finished with 13 each.
The first half was played with a high tempo, O’Sullivan’s physical presence was causing problems for St. Malachy’s and his second basket had Mercy Secondary School Mounthawk 7-6 up three and a half minutes in. A big three from Roan Grattan with 2’45 to go made it 13-8 to the County Kerry side. Two McCotter layups saw St. Malachy’s trail 13-12 just before the minute mark. But a couple of free throws made it 16-12 to Mercy Secondary School Mounthawk at the end of the first quarter.
But St. Malachy’s got themselves in front, 19-16, with two and a half minutes gone in the second quarter, thanks to a three pointer from Ryan Calo. Sheehy helped Mercy Secondary School Mounthawk get level at 24 apiece, however a nice step back three from Michael Donnelly with a little over three minutes go to in the quarter had Malachy’s back in front by three, 27-24. It would be 31-28 at half-time to St Malachy’s.
A little over two minutes into the third Mercy Secondary School Mounthawk reduced the deficit to a point, 35-34, thanks to an O’Sullivan layup. A big three by Luke Donnelly saw Malachy’s stretch their advantage to four, 40-36, with three minutes gone. And they went eight points up thanks to Ryan Calo, who downed his basket from deep behind the three point line, to make it 47-39 with a minute and a half to go in the quarter. It would be 49-41 going into the final quarter, as the sides exchanged baskets in the final minute of the third.
Mercy Secondary School Mounthawk got themselves within three points by the midway point of the fourth, when Paddy Lane converted one of his two free throws, to trail 51-48.
The influential Bowler converted his own rebound to make it 51-51 with 1’01 left. McCotter re-established a two point lead for St. Malachy’s with 45 seconds to go, but a Bowler layup with 32.6 seconds on the clock made it 53-53 and the forward had a free throw to give them the lead, but he failed to convert. Down the play went to the other end of the court and Ryan Calo drew a foul with 16.2 seconds left, he converted one of his free throws to make it 54-53. Mercy Secondary School Mounthawk still had time, a foul was called on Bowler in the final play before the clock ran out, but he failed with his two free throws, as Malachy’s clung on.
Quarter Scores: Q1: 12-16, Q2: 19-12, Q3: 18-13, Q4: 5-12
Mercy Secondary School Mounthawk: Daniel Bowler (15), Donal O’Sullivan (13), Eddie Sheehy (13)
St. Malachy’s Belfast: Jake McCotter (17), Ryan Calo (16), Michael Donnelly (9)
Mercy Secondary School Mounthawk: Coran Hughes, Eddie Sheehy, John Feely, Oisin McGibney, Jack Dakassia, Evan Boyle, Tomas Kennedy, Roan Grattan, Paddy Lane, Daniel Bowler, Donal O’Sullivan, Darragh O’Connor, Steven Barret, Diarmuid Kelly, Georoid O’Connor, Cian Mason.
St. Malachy’s Belfast: Daire O’Hare, Luke Donnelly, Fionn Kennedy, Conall McGirr, Jake McCotter, Michael Donnelly, Jake Calo, Saul Sherlock, Paddy Doran, Ryan Calo, Aiden Benson-Gough